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Ix the early part of the year 1597 Lord Bacon's 
first publication appeared. It is a small 12mo. 
volume, entitled Essay es, Religious Meditations, 
Places of Perswasion and Disswasion. It is dedi- 

'To M. Anthony Bacon, his deare Brother. 

Lcuing and beloued Brother, I doe nowe like some 
that have an orcharde ill neighbored, that gather 
their fruit before it is ripe, to preuent stealing. 
These fragments of my conceites were going to 
print, To labour the staie of them had bin trou- 
blesome, and subiect to interpretation ; to let 
them passe had beene to aduenture the wrong they 
mought receiue by vntrue coppies, or by some 
garnishment, which it mought please any that 
should set them forth to bestow vpon them. There- 
fore I helde it best as they passed long agoe from 
my pen, without any further disgrace, then the 
weaknesse of the Author. And as I did euer 
hold, there mought be as great a vanitie in retiring 
and withdrawing mens conceites (except they bee 
of some nature) from the world, as in obtruding 
them : So in these particulars I haue played my- 
self the Inquisitor, and find nothing to my vnder- 
standing in them contrarie or infectious to the 


state of Religion, or manners, but rather (as I 
suppose) medecinable. Only I disliked now to put 
them out because they will be like the late new 
halfe-pence, which, though the siluer were good, 
yet the peeces were small. But since they would not 
stay with their Master, but would needes trauaile 
abroade, I haue preferred them to you that are 
next my selfe, Dedicating them, such as they are, 
to our loue, in the depth whereof (I assure you) I 
sometimes wish your infirmities translated vppon 
my selfe, that her Maiestie mought haue the ser- 
uice of so actiue and able a mind, and I mought be 
with excuse confined to these contemplations and 
studies for which I am fittest, so commend I you 
to the preseruation of the diuine maiestie : From 
my Chamber at Graies Inne, this 30 of Januarie, 
1597. Your entire Louing Brother, Fran, Bacon/ 
The Essays, which are ten in number, abound 
with condensed thought and practical wisdom, 
neatly, pressly and weightily stated, and, like all 
his early works, are simple without imagery. 
They are written in his favourite style of apho- 
risms, although each Essay is apparently a conti- 
nued work, and without that love of antithesis 
and false glitter to which truth and justness of 
thought are frequently sacrificed by the writers of 

c ,.i, s^ccm^gdition, with a translation of the Me- 
ditat^es e ^rce y v^i^bYished in the next year; 
and another edition enlarged in 1612, when he 


was Solicitor-general, containing thirty-eight Es- 
says ; and one still more enlarged in 1625, con- 
taining fifty-eight Essays, the year before his 

The Essays in the subsequent editions are much 
augmented, according to his own words, "I 
always alter when I add, so that nothing is 
finished till all is finished," and they are adorned 
by happy and familiar illustration, as in the Essay 
of'" Wisdom for a Man's self," which concludes 
in the edition of 1625, with the following extract, 
not to be found in the previous edition : — " Wis- 
dom for a man's self is in many branches thereof 
a depraved thing. It is the wisdom of rats, that 
will be sure to leave a house somewhat before it 
fall. It is the wisdom of the fox, that thrusts out 
the badger who digged and made room for him. 
It is the wisdom of crocodiles that shed tears 
when they would devour. But that which is spe- 
cially to be noted is, that those which, as Cicero 
says of Pompey, are sui amantes sine rivali, are 
many times unfortunate. And whereas they have 
all their time sacrificed to themselves, they be- 
come in the end themselves sacrifices to the in- 
constancy of fortune, whose wings they thought 
by their self-wisdom to have pinioned." 

So in the Essay upon Adversity, on which he 
had deeply reflected, before the edition of rko, 
when k first appeared, he says : u The virtue of 
prosperity is temperance, the virtue of adversity 


is fortitude, which in morals is the more heroica! 
virtue. Prosperity is the blessing of the Old 
Testament, Adversity is the blessing of the New, 
which carrieth the great benediction, and the 
clearer revelation of God's favour. Yet even in 
the Old Testament, if you listen to David's harp, 
you shall hear as many hearse-like airs as carols ; 
and the pencil of the Holy Ghost hath laboured 
more in describing the afflictions of Job than the 
felicities of Solomon. Prosperity is not without 
many fears and distastes ; and adversity is not 
without comforts and hopes. We see in needle- 
works and embroideries, it is more pleasing to 
have a lively work upon a sad and solemn ground, 
than to have a dark and melancholy work upon a 
lightsome ground : judge, therefore, of the plea- 
sure of the heart by the pleasure of the eye. 
Certainly virtue is like precious odours, most 
fragrant when they are incensed or crushed : for 
prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity 
doth best discover virtue. 

The Essays were immediately translated into 
French and Italian, and into Latin by some of his 
friends, amongst whom were Hacket, Bishop of 
Lichfield, and his constant affectionate friend, 

_ i ! 2IGi D9IUJ3Y J9DflJj 3 

Ben Jonson. 

oi v n99u sjsfi &snij,jfi9'i 

His own estimate of the value of this work is 

thus stated in his letter to the Bishop of Win- 
chester : "As for my Essays, and some other 
particulars of that nature, I count them but as the 


recreations of my other studies, and in that man- 

ner purpose to continue them ; though 1 am not 

ignorant that these kind of writings would, with 

less pains and assiduity, perhaps yield more lustre 

and reputation to my name than the others I have 
. , i ,, > 'Ox) to no! nxftb 

m hand. 

Although it was not likely that such lustre and 
reputation would dazzle him, the admirer of 
Phocion, who, when applauded, turned to one of 
his friends and asked, "What have I said amiss ?" 
although. popular judgment was not likely to mis- 
lead him who concludes his observations upon 
the objections to learning and the advantages of 
knowledge, by saying, "Nevertheless I do not 
pretend, and I know it will be impossible for me, 
by any pleading of mine, to reverse the judgment 
either of iEsop's cock that preferred the barley- 
corn before the gem; or of Midas, that being chosen 
judge between Apollo, president of the Muses, and 
Pan, god of the flocks, judged for plenty ; or of 
Paris, that judged for beauty and love against 
wisdom and power. For these things continue as 
they have been ; but so will that also continue 
whereupon learning hath ever relied and which 
faileth not, ' Justificata est sapientia a filiis suis :'." 
yet he seems to have undervalued this little work , 

which, for two centuries, has been favourably re- 
ceived by every lover of knowledge and of beauty, 

and is now so well appreciated that a celebrated 
_ . „ i r . ■ tfH 

Professor ot our own times truiv savs.: "The 

i Jsflrto «n 


small volume to which he has given the title of 
' Essays,' the best known and the most popular 
of all his works, is one of those where the supe- 
riority of his genius appears to the greatest ad- 
vantage, the novelty and depth of his reflections 
often receiving a strong relief from the triteness 
of the subject. It may be read from beginning to 
end in a few hours, and yet after the twentieth 
perusal one seldom fails to remark in it something 
overlooked before. This, indeed, is a character- 
istic of all: Bacon s writings, and is only to be 
accounted for by the inexhaustible aliment they 
furnish to our own thoughts and the sympathetic 
activity they impart to our torpid faculties." 

During his life six or more editions, which seem 
to have been pirated, were published ; and after 
his death, two spurious Essays " Of Death/' and 
b Of a King," the only: authentic Posthumous 
Essay being the Fragment of an Essay on Fame, 
which was published by his friend and chaplain 
Dr. Rawley. 

This edition is a transcript of the edition of 1625, 
with, the Posthumous Essays. In the Life of 
Bacori*r there is a minute account of the different 
editions of the Essays and of their contents. 
They may shortly be stated as follows : 
First edition, 1597, genuine. 
There are two copies of this edition in the Urn- 
*mna — H — 

* By ; B. Motitagu. ■ Apperidi*, note 3 I. 


versity Library at Cambridge: and there is Arch- 
bishop SancrofVs copy in Emanuel Library : there 
is a copy in the Bodleian, and I have a copy. 

Second edition, 1598, genuine. 

Third edition, 1606, pirated^ 

Fourth edition, entitled, " The Essaies of Sir 
Francis Bacon, Knight, the Kings Sollicker Ge- 
nerall. Imprinted at London by Iohn Beale, 1612," 
genuine. It was the intention of Sir Francis to 
have dedicated this edition to Henry Prince of 
Wales, but he was prevented by the death of the 
Prince on the 6th of November in that year. This 
appears by the following letter : * 

To the most high and excellent Prince, Henry, 
Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall and Earl 
of Chester. 

It may please your Highness, — Having divided 
my life into the contemplative and active part, I 
am desirous -to give his Majesty and your High- 
ness of the fruits of both, simple though they be. 
To write just treatises, require th leisure in the 
writer and leisure in the reader, and therefore 
are not so fit, neither in regard of your Highness's 
princely affairs nor in regard of my continual 
service; which is the cause that hath made me 
choose to write certain brief notes, set down rattier 
significantly than curiously, which I have called 
Essays. The word is late but the thing is ancient ; 
for Seneca's Epistles to Lucilius, if you mark 


them well, are but essays, that is, dispersed medi- 
tations though conveyed in the form of epistles. 
These labours of mine, I know, cannot be worthy 
of your Highness, for what can be worthy of you ? 
But my hope is, they may be as grains of salt, 
that will rather give you an appetite than offend 
you with satiety. And although they handle those 
things wherein both men's lives and their persons 
are most conversant ; yet what I have attained I 
know not ; but I have endeavoured to make them 
not vulgar, but of a nature whereof a man shall 
find much in experience and little in books ; so 
as they are neither repetitions nor fancies. Bat, 
however, I shall most humbly desire your Highness 
to accept them in gracious part and to conceive, 
that if I cannot rest but must shew my dutiful 
and devoted affection to your Highness in these 
things which proceed from myself, I shall be 
much more ready to do it in performance of any 
of your princely commandments. And so wishing 
your Highness all princely felicity, T rest vour 
Highness most humble servant, 

1612. " d In ° J Fk. Bacon. 

sH bioJ 
It was dedicated as follows : 

To my loving Brother, Sir John Constable, Knt. 
My last Essaies I dedicated to my deare bro- 
ther Master Anthony Bacon, who is with God. 
Looking amongst my papers tliis vacation, I found 
others of the same nature : which if I myselte 
shall not suffer to be lost, it seemeth the world 


will not; by the often printing- of, the former. 
Missing my brother, I found you next ;. in respect 
of bond both of neare alliance, and of straight 
friendship and societie and particularly of com- 
munication in studies. Wherein I must acknow- 
ledge my selfe beholding to you. For as my 
businesse found rest in my contemplations ; so my 
contemplations ever found rest in your loving con- 
ference and judgment. So wishing you all good, 
I remaine your louing brother and friend, 

Fra. Bacon. 

Fifth edition, 1612, pirated. Sixth edition, 
1613, pirated. Seventh edition, 1624, pirated. 
Eighth edition, 1624, pirated. Ninth edition, 
entitled, " The Essayes or Covnsels, Civiil and 
Morall, of Francis Lo. Vervlam, Viscovnt St. 
Alban. Newly enlarged. London, Printed by 
Iohn Haviland for Hanna Barret and Richard 
Whitaker, and are to be sold at the signe of the 
King's head in Paul's Churchyard. 1625," genuine. 

This edition is a small quarto of 340 pages ; it 
clearly was published by Lord Bacon, and in the 
next year, 1626, Lord Bacon died. The dedica- 
tion is as follows, to the Duke of Buckingham : 

To the Right Honorable my very good Lo. the 
Duke of Buckingham his Grace, Lo.HighAd- 
mirall of England. 

Excellent Lo. — Salomon saies, A good name is 
as a precious oyntment ; and I assure myselfe,, 

x mmmm 

such wil your Grace's name bee, with posteritie. 
For your fortune and merit i both, haue beene 
eminent. And you haue planted tilings that are 
like to last. I, doe itiom publish my Essayed-; 
which, of all my other workes, have beene most 
currant : for that, as it seemes^they come home 
to mens businesse and bosomes. 3 Ihaue enlarged 
them both in number and weight, so that they 
are indeed a new work,,, I thought it therefore 
agreeable to my affection, and obligation to your 
Grace, to prefix your, name before them, both in 
English and in OLatine^ij Fori doe conceiue, that 
the Latine volume of them (being in the vniuersal 
language) may last as Jsong as bookes last,: My 
Instauration I dedicated to the king : my Historie 
of Henry the Seventh, (which I haue now also 
translated into Latine) and my portions of Naturall 
History, to the Prince: and these I dedicate to 
your Grace : being of the test fruits, that by the 
good encrease which God gives to my pen and 
labours, I could' yeeld. *< God leade your Grace bf 
the .hand. Your Graces most obliged and ■ -faith* 
full seruant, Fr. St. Alba^. 

Of this edition Lord Bacon sent a copy to the 
Marquis Fiat, with the following* letter «* 

O uo I 

^JVlpnsie^ ji^ptaig^gjrj | mon Filz,— Voyant 

qjf^yostre Excellence faict et traite manages, non 

a rrH ' livrD hew UnoT/ fn^fii 


seukment entre les Princes d'Angleterre et de 
France, mais aussi entre les langues (puis que 
faictes traduire mon liure de l'Advancement des 
Sciences en Francois) i'ai bien voulu vous envoyer 
mon liure dernierement imprime que i'avois pour- 
veu pour vous, mais i'estois en doubte, de le vous 
envoyer, pour ce qu'il estoit escrit en Anglois. 
Mais a' cest'heure pour la raison susdicte ie le 
vous eavoye. C'est un recompilement de mes 
Essays Morales et Giviles ; mais tellement en- 
larges et enrichies, tant de nombre que de poix, 
que c'est de fait un oenvre nouveau. Ie vous 
baise les mains, et reste ; vostre tres afYectionee 
ami, et tres humble serviteur, 

lne same m English. 

My Lord Ambassador, my Son,— Seeing that 
your Excellency makes and treats of marriages^ 
not only betwixt the Princes of France and Eng- 
land, but also betwixt their languages (for -you 
have caused my book of the Advancement of 
Learning to be. translated into French), I was 
much inclined to: make you a present of the last 
book which I published, and which ih ha4i in rea- 
diness for you. I was sometimes in dou&t ^hetta: 
I ought to have sent it to you, because it was 
written in the English tongue. But now, fbr [ fhat 
tffity'.feason, I send it to you. It is a recompile- 
ment of my Essays, Moral and Civil ; but in such 
manner enlarged |nd enriched both in number and 


weight, that it is in effect a new work. 1 kiss 
your hands, and remain your most affectionate 
friend and most humble servant, &c. luim , 

Of the translation of the Essays into Latin, 
Bacon speaks in the following: letter : — 

M L «yu da , T . ■ ■ 

" To Mr. Tobie Mathew.-It is true my labours 
are now most set to have those works which I had 
formerly published, as that of Advancement of 
Learning, that of Henry VII., that of the Essays, 
being retractate and made more perfect, well trans- 
lated into Latin by the help of some good pens 
which forsake me not. For these modern lan- 
guages will, at one time or other, play the bank- 
rupt with books ; and since I have lost much time 
with this age, I would be glad, as God shall give 
me leave, to recover it with posterity. For the 
Essay of Frie^ r1 :-hip, while I took your speech of 
it for a curse -quest, I took my promise for a 
compliment. But since you call for it, I shall 
perform it." 

In his letter to Father Fulgentio, giving some 
account of his writings, he says, " The Novum 
Organum should immediately follow, but my 
Moral and Political writings step in between as 
being more finished. These are the History of 
King 1 Henrv VII., and the small book, which in 
your language you have called Saggi Morali, but 
I give it a graver title, that of Sermones Fideles, 
or Interiora Rerum, and these Essays will not 


only be enlarged in number, but still more in 

The nature of the Latin edition and of the Es- 
says in general is thus stated by Archbishop Ten- 
ison : 

" The Essays, or Counsels Civil and Moral, 
though a by-work also, do yet make up a book of 
greater weight by far than the apothegms : and 
coming home to men's business and bosoms, his 
lordship entertained this persuasion concerning 
them, that the Latin volume might last as long as 
books should last. His Lordship wrote them in 
the English tongue, and enlarged them as occasion 
served, and at last added to them the Colours of 
Good and Evil, which are likewise found in his 
book De Augmentis. The Latin translation of 
them was a work performed by divers hands ; by 
those of Dr. Hacket (late Bishop of Lichfield), 
Mr. Benjamin Jonson (the learned and judicious 
poet), and some others, whose names I once heard 
from Dr. Rawley, but I cannot now recall them, 
To this Latin edition, he gave the title of Senno- 
nes Fideles, after the manner of the Jews, who 
called the words Adages or Observations of the 
Wise, Faithful Sayings; that is, credible propo- 
sitions worthy of firm assent and ready acceptance. 
And (as I think) he alluded mere particularly, in 
this title, to a passage in Ecclesiastes, where the 
Preacher saith that he scught to find out Verba 
Delectabilia (as Tremeh" ih the Hebrew), 


pleasant words (that is, perhaps, his Book of 
Canticles ;) and Verba Fidelia (as the sarrie Tre- 
mellius), Faithful Sayings; meaning, it maybe, 
his Collection of Proverbs. In the next verse, 
he calls them words of the wise, and so many 
goads and nails given ' Ab eodem pastore/ from 
the same shepherd [of the flock of Israel.]" 

In the year 1638, Rawley published in folio a 
volume containing amongst other works, " Ser- 
mones Fideles, ab ipso Honoratissimo Auctore, 
prseterquam in paueis, Latinitate donati." In his 
address to the reader he says : " Accedunt, quas 
prius Delibationes Civiles et Morales inscripserat : 
quas etiam in linguas plurimas modernas translatas 
esse novit ; sed eas postea, et numero et pondere, 
auxit ; in tantum, u't veluti opus novum videri pos- 
sint ; quas mutato titulo, Sermones Fideles, sive In- 
tercom Rerum, inscribi placuit. Addi etiam vomit." 
The title-page and dedication are annexed : ' " Ser- 
mones Fideles sive Interiora Rerum. Per Fran- 
ciscum Baconum Baronem de Vervlamio, Vice- 
Comitem Sancti Albani. Londini Excusum typis 
Edwardi Griffin. Prostant ad Insignia Regia in 
Coemeterio D. Pauli, apud Richardum Whita- 
kenim, 1638." 

Ill\is£ri etExcellenti Domino Georgio Duci Buck- 
inghamiae, summo Angliee Admirallio. 
Honoratissime Domine, — Salomon inquit, No- 
men bonum est instar vnguenti fragrantis et 


pretiosi; neque dubito, quin tale futurum sitipo- 
men tuum apud posteros/ Etenim, et fortune,! jet 
merita tua, prsecelluerunt. Et videos ea plantasse, 
quee sint duratura. In lucem jamnedere mihi visum 
est Delibationes meas, quoe ex, omnibus meis 
operibus fuerunt acceptissimee : quia forsitan vi- 
dentur, prse ceteris, hominum negotia stringere, 
et in sinus fluere. Eas autem auxi, et numero, et 
pondere : in tantum, ut plane opus novum sint. 
Consentaneum igitur duxi, affectui, et obligation! 
rnese, erga illustrissirnam dominationem tuam,^ 
nomen tuum illis prsofigam, tarn in editione ,^fc 
glica, quam Latina. Etenim, in J)Qna spe sum, 
volumen earum in Latinam, (Imguam scilicet 
universalem) versum, posse durare, quamdiu libri 
et literee durent. Instaurationeni meam regi dj- 
cavi : Historiam Regni Henrici Septimi, (quam 
etiam in Latinum verti) et portiones meas Natu- 
ralis Historise Principi : has autem delibationes 
illustrissimee dominationi tuoe dico ; cum sint, ex 
fructibus optimis quos gratia divina calami mei 
laboribus indulgente, exhibere potui. Deus illus- 
trissirnam dominationem tuammanu ducat. Illus- 
trissimee Dcminationis tuse servus devinctissimus 
et fldelis, Fr. S. Alba^t. 

In thenar 1618, Tte^'Bsf ^spfo^ether with the 
Wisdom : of the 1 Ancients, was translated into Ita- 
lian, and dedicated to Cosmo de Medici, by Tobie 
Mathew; and in the following year the Essays were 


translated into French by Sir Arthur Gorges, and 
printed in London. 


In the year 1609, as a relaxation from abstruse 
speculations, he published in Latin his interesting 
little work, " De Sapientia Veterum. ,, 

This tract seems, in former times, to have been 
much valued. The fables, abounding with a 
union of deep thought and poetic beauty, are 
thirty-one in number, of which a part of " The 
Sirens, or Pleasures, " may be selected as a spe- 

In this fable he explains the common but erro- 
neous supposition, that knowledge and the con- 
formity of the will, knowing and acting, are con- 
vertible terms. — Of this error he, in his Essay of 
" Custom and Education," admonishes his readers, 
by saying, " Men's thoughts are much according 
to their inclination ; their discourse and speeches 
according to their learning and infused opinions, 
but their deeds are after as they have been ac- 
customed ; iEsop's damsel, transformed from a cat 
to a woman, sat very demurely at the board-end 
till a mouse ran before her." — In the fable of the 
Sirens he exhibits the same truth, saying, " The 
habitation of the Sirens was in certain pleasant 
islands, from whence, as soon as out of their 
watch-tower they discovered any ships approach- 
ing, with their sweet tunes they would first entice 


and stay them, and, having them in their power, 
would destroy them; and, so great were the mis- 
chiefs they did, that these isles of the syrens, 
even as far off as man can ken them, appeared all 
over white with the bones of unburied carcasses : 
by which it is signified that albeit the examples of 
afflictions be manifest and eminent, yet they do 
not sufficiently deter us from the wicked entice- 
ments of pleasure." 

The following is the account of the different 
editions of this work : — The first was published in 
1609. In February 27, 1610, Lord Bacon wrote to 
Mr. Mathew, upon sending his book De Sapientia 
Veterum : 

" Mr. Mathew, — I do very heartily thank you 
for your letter of the 24th of August from Sala- 
manca ; and in recompence therefore I send you 
a little work of mine that hath begun to pass the 
world. They tell me my Latin is turned into 
silver, and become current: had you been here, 
you should have been my inquisitor before it came 
forth; but, I think, the greatest inquisitor in 
Spain will allow it. But one thing you must 
pardon me if I make no haste to believe, that the 
world should be grown to such an ecstasy as to re- 
ject truth in philosophy, because the author dis- 
senteth in religion ; no more than they do by 
Aristotle or Averroes. My great work goeth for- 
ward ; and after my manner, I alter even when I 
add. So that nothing is finished till all be finished. 


This I have written in the midst of a term and 
parliament; thinking no time so possessed, but 
that I should talk of these matters with so good 
and dear a friend. And so with my wonted wishes 
I leave you to God's goodness. 

" From Gray's Inn, Feb. 27, 1610." 

And in his letter to Father Fulgentio, giving 
some account of his writings, he says, " My Es- 
says will not only be enlarged in number, but 
still more in substance. Along with them goes 
the little piece ' De Sapientia Veterum.' " 

In the " Advancement of Learning" he says, 
" There remaineth yet another use of poesy para- 
bolical, opposite to that which we last mentioned : 
for that tendeth to demonstrate and illustrate that 
which is taught or delivered, and this other to re- 
tire and obscure it : that is, when the secrets and 
mysteries of religion, policy, or philosophy, are 
involved in fables or parables. Of this in divine 
poesy we see the use is authorized. In heathen 
poesy we see the exposition of fables doth fall out 
sometimes with great felicity ; as in the fable that 
the giants being overthrown in their war against 
the gods, the Earth, their mother, in revenge 
thereof brought forth Fame : 

' Illam Terra parens, ira irritata deorum, 
Extremam, ut perhibent, Coeo Enceladoque sororem 

expounded, that when princes and monarchs have 
.suppressed actual and open rebels, then the ma- 1 


lignity of the people, which is the mother "of re- 
bellion, doth bring forth libels and slanders, and 
taxations of the state, which is of the same kind 
with rebellion, but more feminine. So in the 
fable, that the rest of the gods having conspired 
to bind Jupiter, Pallas called Briareus with his 
hundred hands to his aid, expounded, that mo- 
narchies need not fear any curbing of their abso- 
luteness by mighty subjects, as long as by wisdom 
they keep the hearts of the people, who will be 
sure to come in on their side. So in the fable, 
that Achilles was brought up under Chiron the 
centaur, who was part a man and part a beast, ex- 
pounded ingeniously, but corruptly by Machiavel, 
that it belongeth to the education and discipline 
of princes to know as well how to play the part of 
the lion in violence, and the fox in guile, as of 
the man in virtue and justice. Nevertheless, in 
many the like encounters, I do rather think that 
the fable was first, and the exposition then de- 
vised, than that the moral was first, and thereupon 
the fable framed. For I find it was an ancient 
vanity in Chrysippus, that troubled himself with 
great contention to fasten the assertions of the 
Stoics upon the fictions of the ancient poets ; but 
yet that all the fables and fictions of the poets 
were but pleasure and not figure, I interpose no 
opinion. Surely of those poets w T hich are now 
extant, even Homer himself, (notwithstanding he 
was made a kind of Scripture by the latter schools 


of the Grecians,) yet I should without any diffi- 
culty pronounce that his fables had no such in- 
wardness in his own meaning; but what they 
might have upon a more original tradition, is not 
easy to affirm; for he was not the inventor of 
many of them/ ' 

In the treatise " De Augmentis," the same 
sentiments will be found with a slight alteration 
in the expressions. He says, " there is another 
use of parabolical poesy opposite to the former, 
which tendeth to the folding up of those things, 
the dignity whereof deserves to be retired and dis- 
tinguished, as with a drawn curtain: that is, 
when the secrets and mysteries of religion, policy, 
and philosophy are veiled and invested with fables 
and parables. But whether there be any mystical 
sense couched under the ancient fables of the 
poets, may admit some doubt : and indeed for our 
part we incline to this opinion, as to think that 
there was an infused mystery in. many of the an- 
cient fables of the poets. Neither doth it move 
us that these matters are left commonly to school- 
boys and grammarians, and so are embased, that 
we should therefore make a slight judgment upon 
them : but contrariwise because it is clear that 
the writings which recite those fables, of all the 
writings of men, next to sacred writ, are the most 
ancient : and that the fables themselves are far 
more ancient than they (being they are alleged by 
those writers, not as excogitated by them, but 


as credited and recepted before) seem to be, like 
a thin rarefied air, which from the traditions of 
more ancient nations, fell into the flutes of the 

Of this tract, Archbishop Tenison in his Baco- 
niana, says, " In the seventh place, I may reckon 
his book De Sapientia Veterum, written by him in 
Latin, and set forth a second time with enlarge- 
ment ; and translated into English by Sir Arthur 
Gorges : a book in which the sages of former 
times are rendered more wise than it may be they 
were, by so dextrous an interpreter of their fa- 
bles. It is this book which Mr. Sandys means, 
in those words which he hath put before his notes, 
on the Metamorphosis of Ovid. ' Of modern 
writers, I have received the greatest light from 
Geraldus, Pontanus, Ficinus, Vives, Comes, Sca- 
liger, Sabinus, Pierius, and the crown of the latter, 
the Viscount of St. Albans/ 

"It is true, the design of this book was in- 
struction in natural and civil matters, either 
couched by the ancients under those fictions, or 
rather made to seem to be so by his lordship's 
wit, in the opening and applying of them. But 
because the first ground of it is poetical story, 
therefore let it have this place, till a fitter be 
found for it." 

The author of Bacon's Life, in the Biographia 
Britannica, says, " That he might relieve himself a 
little from the severity of these studies, and as it 


were amuse himself with erecting a magnificent 
pavilion, while his great palace of philosophy was 
building : he composed and sent abroad in 1610, 
his celebrated treatise Of the Wisdom of the 
Ancients, in which he showed that none had stu- 
died them more closely, was better acquainted 
with their beauties, or had pierced deeper into 
their meaning. There have been very few books 
published, either in this or in any other nation, 
which either deserved or met with more general 
applause than this, and scarce any that are like 
to retain it longer, for in this performance Sir 
Francis Bacon gave a singular proof of his ca- 
pacity to please all parties in literature, as in his 
political conduct he stood fair with all the parties 
in the nation. The admirers of antiquity were 
charmed with this discourse, which seems ex- 
pressly calculated to justify their admiration ; and, 
on the other hand, their opposites were no less 
pleased with a piece, from which they thought 
they could demonstrate that the sagacity of a 
modern genius had found out much better mean- 
ings for the ancients than ever were meant by 

And Mallet, in his life of Bacon, says, " In 
1610 he published another treatise, entitled Of 
the Wisdom of the Ancients. This work bears 
the same stamp of an original and inventive ge- 
nius with his other performances. Resolving not 
to tread in the steps of those who had gone be- 



fore him, men, according to his own expression, 
not learned beyond .certain common places, he 
strikes out a new tract for himself, and enters 
into the most secret recesses of this wild and 
shadowy region, so as to appear new on a known 
and beaten subject. Upon the whole, if we can- 
not bring ourselves readily to believe that there 
is all the physical, moral, and political meaning 
veiled under those fables of antiquity, which he 
has discovered in them, we must own that it re- 
quired no common penetration to be mistaken 
with so great an appearance of probability on his 
side. Though it still remains doubtful whether 
the ancients were so knowing as he attempts to 
shew they were, the variety and depth of his own 
knowledge are, in that very attempt unques- 
tionable. " 

In the year 1619, this tract was translated by 
Sir Arthur Gorges. Prefixed to the work are two 
letters ; the one to the Earl of Salisbury, the other 
to the University of Cambridge, which Gorges 
omits, and dedicates his translation to the high, 
and illustrious Princess the Lady Elizabeth of 
Great Britain, Duchess of Baviare, Countess 
Palatine of Rheine, and Chief Electress of the 

This translation, it should be noted, was pub- 
lished during the life of Lord Bacon by a great 
admirer of his works. 



The editions of this work with which I am ac- 
quainted are : 








R. Barker 





J. Bill 





G. Bill 





J. Bill 










F. Maire 

Lug. Bat. 




F. Kingston 





E. Griffin 





H. Wetstein 





H. Frantin 



For the translation of this little volume I am 
indebted to the learned Mr. Herman Merivale, the 
son of my esteemed and kind friend and fellow - 
labourer in the resistance of innovation and the 
encouragement of Reform, Mr. Merivale, one of 
the Commissioners of the Court of Bankruptcy. 




1. Truth 1 

2. Death 4 

3. Unity in Religion > 7 

4. Revenge 13 

v 5. Adversity 15 

6. Simulation and Dissimulation 16 

7. Parents and Children 21 

8. Marriage and Single Life 23 

9. Envy 25 

-10. Love 32 

11. Great Place 34 

12. Boldness 39 

13. Goodness and Goodness of Nature 41 

14. Nobility 44 

15. Seditions and Troubles 46 

|16. Atheism 56 

17. Superstition 59 

'18. Travel 62 

19. Empire 65 

20. Counsel 71 

21. Delays 78 

22. Cunning 79 

23. Wisdom for a Man's self 84 

24. Innovations 86 

25. Dispatch 88 

26. Seeming wise 90 



1 27. Friendship .. 92 

28. Expence. 102 

29. The true Greatness of Kingdoms and Estates 104 

30. Regimen of Health 116 

31. Suspicion 119 

32. Discourse , 120 

33. Plantations 123 

34. Riches 127 

35. Prophecies 132 

36. Ambition 136 

37. Masques and Triumphs 139 

38. Nature in Men.. 141 

39. Custom and Education 143 

40.. Fortune 146 

41. Usury 148 

42. YouthandAge 153 

43. Beauty . 156 

44. Deformity 157 

45. Building.. *.. 159 

,.,46. Gardens 165 

47. Negotiating. 174 

48. Followers and Friends 176 

49. Suitors 178 

50. Studies 181 

51. Faction., 183 

52. Ceremonies and Respects 185 

53. Praise 187 

54. Vain Glory 190 

55. Honour and Reputation 192 

56. Judicature 195 

57. Anger 200 

58. Vicissitude of Things 208 


1. Fragment of an Essay of Fame 211 

2. A King. 213 

3. Essay on Death 217 





Adversity 15 

Ambition 136 

Anger ..,. 200 

Atheism 56 

Beauty 156 

Boldness .... , ,39 

Building ....,...,. ,.„ 159 

Ceremonies and Respects...... * 185 

Counsel 71 

Cunning 79 

Custom and Education ................... 143 

Death 4 

Deformity ....... ,... 157 

Delays 78 

Discourse ..... ......... 120 

Dispatch 88 

Empire 65 

Envy .... ................. 25 

Expence ...,,. .....*. A . 102 

Faction .... 183 

Followers and Friends 176 

Fortune 346 

Friendship 92 

Gardens.. 165 

Goodness, and Goodness of Nature 41 

Great Place i 34 

Honour and Reputation. . .. 192 

Innovations 86 

Judicature..... 195 

Love ?..:.r.. Si- 



Marriage and Single Life « 23 

Masques and Triumphs 139 

Nature in Men 141 

Nobility 44 

Negociating 174 

Parents and Children 21 

Plantations 123 

Praise 187 

Prophecies. 132 

Regimen of Health 116 

Revenge 13 

Riches 127 

Seditions and Troubles 46 

Seeming wise 90 

Simulation and Dissimulation 16 

Studies 181 

Suitors 178 

Superstition 59 

Suspicion 119 

Travel 62 

True Greatness of Kingdoms and Estates 104 

Truth 1 

Unity in Religion 7 

Usury. 148 

Vain glory 190 

Vicissitude of Things 203 

Wisdom for a Man's self 84 

Youth and Age 153 


A Fragment of an Essay of Fame 211 

An Essay on Death 217 

Of a King 213 




Dedication — To the University of Cambridge 227 

Preface 229 

1. Cassandra, or Freespokenness 237 

2. Typhon, or the Rebel 239 

3. Cyclopes, or Ministers of Terror 242 

4. Narcissus, or Self-Love 243 

5. Styx, or Treaties 245 

6. Pan, or Nature 248 

7. Perseus, or War 259 

8. Endymion, or the Favourite 264 

9. Sister of the Giants, or Fame 266 

10. Actaeon and Pentheus, or the Curious Man 267 

11. Orpheus, or Philosophy 269 

12. Heaven, or Origins 273 

13. Proteus, or Matter 276 

14. Memnon, or the Premature 279 

15. Tythonus, or Satiety 280 

16. Suitor of Juno, or Disgrace 281 

17. Cupid, or Atom 282 

18. Diomed, or Jealousy 287 

19. Daedalus, or the Mechanic 290 

.20. Erichthonius, or Imposture 293 

21. Deucalion, or Restitution 295 

22. Nemesis, or the Mutability of Things 296 

23. Achelous, or Battle 299 

24. Bacchus, or Passion 300 

25. Atalanta, or Gain 305 

26. Prometheus, or the state of Man 307 

27. Scylla and Icarus, or the Middle Way 322 

28. Sphinx, or Science 324 

29. Proserpine, or Spirit 329 

30. Metis, or Counsel 334 

31. The Sirens, or Pleasure 335 




Achelous, or Battle 299 

Actaeon and Pentheus, or the Curious Man 267 

Atalanta, or Gain 305 

Bacchus, or Passion 300 

Cassandra, or Freespokenness 237 

Cupid, or Atom 282 

Cyclopes, or Ministers of Terror 242 

Daedalus, or the Mechanic 290 

Deucalion, on Restitution 295 

Diomed, or Jealousy 287 

Endymion, or the Favourite 264 

Erichthonius, or Imposture 293 

Heaven, or Origins 273 

Metis, or Counsel 334 

Memnon, or the Premature 279 

Narcissus, or Self-love 243 

Nemesis, or the Mutability of Things 296 

Orpheus, or Philosophy 269 

Pan, or Nature 248 

Perseus, or War 259 

Proserpine, or Spirit 329 

Prometheus, or the State of Man 307 

Proteus, or Matter 276 

Scylla and Icarus, or the Middle Way 322 

Sister of the Giants, or Fame 266 

Sirens, or Pleasure 335 

Sphynx, or Science 324 

Styx, or Treaties 245 

Suitor of Juno, or Disgrace 281 

Typhon, or the Rebel 239 

Tythonus, or Satiety 280 



iiou nid b*>rl mifiilo"- 
j9i oJ : aoite* 

smog yd 10 : ^iqq< 

r nreriJ ,ioqv wcxteod o.t iitnoi 

bib i ai 




WHAT is truth ? said jesting Pilate ; and 
would not stay for an answer. Certainly 
there be that delight in giddiness ; and count it 
a bondage to fix a belief; affecting free-will in 
thinking, as well as in acting. And though the 
sects of philosophers of that kind be gone, yet 
there remain certain discoursing wits, which are 
of the same veins, though there be not so much 
blood in them as was in those of the ancients. 
But it is not only the difficulty and labour which 
men take in finding out of truth ; nor again, that 
when it is found, it imposeth upon men's thoughts, 
that doth bring lies in favour; but a natural though 
corrupt love of the lie itself. One of the later 
school of the Grecians examineth the matter, and 
is at a stand to think what should be in it, that 
men should love lies ; where neither they make 
for pleasure, as with poets ; nor for advantage, as 
with the merchant, but for the lie's sake. But I 
cannot tell : this same truth is a naked and open 
day-light, that doth not shew the masks, and 



mummeries, and triumphs of the world, half so 
stately and daintily as candle-lights. Truth may 
perhaps come to the price of a pearl, that sheweth 
best by day, but it will not rise to the price of a 
diamond or carbuncle, that sheweth best in varied 
lights. A mixture of a lie doth ever add pleasure. 
Doth any man doubt, that if there were taken out 
of men's minds, vain opinions, flattering hopes, 
false valuations, imaginations as one would, and 
the like, but it would leave the minds of a number 
of men, poor shrunken things, full of melancholy 
and indisposition, and unpleasing to themselves ? 
One of the fathers, in great severity, called poesy, 
M vinum daemonum," because it filleth the imagi- 
nation, and yet it is but with the shadow of a lie. 
But it is not the lie that passeth through the mind, 
but the lie that sinketh in, and settleth in it, that 
doth the hurt, such as we spake of before. But 
howsoever these things are thus in men's depraved 
judgments and affections, yet truth, which only 
doth judge itself, teacheth, that the inquiry of 
truth, which is the love-making, or wooing of it, 
the knowledge of truth, which is the presence of 
it, and the belief of truth, which is the enjoying 
of it, is the sovereign good of human nature. The 
first creature of God, in the works of the days, 
w r as the light of the sense : the last was the light 
of reason; and his sabbath work ever since, is 
the illumination of his Spirit. First, he breathed 
light upon the face of the matter, or chaos ; then 


he breathed light into the face of man ; and still 
he breatheth and inspireth light into the face of 
his chosen. The poet that beautified the sect, that 
was otherwise inferior to the rest, saith yet excel- 
lently well: ^ It is a pleasure to stand upon the 
shore, and to see ships tossed upon the sea: a 
pleasure to stand in the window of a castle, and 
to see a battle, and the adventures thereof below : 
but no pleasure is comparable to the standing 
upon the vantage ground of truth, (a hill not to be 
commanded, and where the air is always clear and 
serene), and to see the errors, and wanderings, 
and mists, and tempests, in the vale below :" so 
always that this prospect be with pity, and not 
with swelling or pride. Certainly, it is heaven 
upon earth, to have a man's mind move in charity, 
rest in providence, and turn upon the poles of 

To pass from theological and philosophical truth, 
to the truth of civil business ; it will be acknow- 
leged even by those that practise it not, that clear 
and round dealing is the honour of man's nature, 
and that mixture of falsehood is like alloy in coin 
of gold and silver, which may make the metal 
work the better, but it embaseth it. For these 
winding and crooked courses are the goings of 
the serpent ; which goeth basely upon the belly, 
and not upon the feet. There is no vice that doth 
so cover a man with shame as to be found false 
and perfidious; and therefore Montaigne saith 


prettily, when he inquired the reason, why the 
word of the lie should be such a disgrace, and 
such an odious charge, saith he, " If it be well 
weighed, to say that a man lieth, is as much as to 
say, that he is brave towards God, and a coward 
towards men. For a lie faces God, and shrinks 
from man." Surely the wickedness of falsehood, 
and breach of faith cannot possibly be so highly ex- 
pressed, as in that it shall be the last peal to call 
the judgments of God upon the generations of men : 
it being foretold, that when " Christ cometh," he 
shall not " find faith upon the earth." 


MEN fear death, as children fear to go in 
the dark ; and as that natural fear in chil- 
dren is increased with tales, so is the other. Cer- 
tainly, the contemplation of death, as the wages 
] of sin, and passage to another world, is holy and 
\ religious ; but the fear of it, as a tribute due unto 
| nature, is weak* Yet in religious meditations, 
I there is sometimes mixture of vanity and of super- 
1 stition. You shall read in some of the friars' books 

of mortification, that a man should think with him- 
I self, what the pain is, if he have but his finger's 

|end pressed or tortured; and thereby imagine what 

the pains of death are, when the whole body is 


corrupted and dissolved ; when many times death 
passeth with less pain than the torture of a limb : 
for the most vital parts are not the quickest of 
sense. And by him that spake only as a philoso- 
pher, and natural man, it was well said, " Pompa 
mortis magis terret, quam mors ipsa." Groans 
and convulsions, and a discoloured face, and friends 
weeping, and blacks and obsequies, and the like, 
show death terrible. It is worthy the observing", 
that there is no passion in the mind of man so 
weak, but it mates and masters the fear of death ; 
and therefore death is no such terrible enemy 
when a man hath so many attendants about him that 
can win the combat of him. Revenge triumphs 
over death ; love slights it ; honour aspireth to it ; 
grief flieth to it ; fear pre-occupateth it : nay, we 
read, after Otho the emperor had slain himself, 
pity (which is the tenderest of affections) provoked 
many to die out of mere compassion to their sove- 
reign, and as the truest sort of followers. Nay, 
Seneca adds, niceness and satiety : " Cogita quam 
diu eadem feceris ; mori velle, non tantum fortis, 
aut miser, sed etiam fastidiosus potest." A man 
would die, though he were neither valiant nor 
miserable, only upon a weariness to do the same 
thing so oft over and over. It is no less worthy 
to observe, how little alteration in good spirits 
the approaches of death make : for they appear to 
be the same men till the last instant. Augustus 
Caesar died in a compliment ; " Livia, conjugii 


nostri memor, vive et vale." Tiberius in dissimu- 
lation, as Tacitus saith of him, " Jam Tiberium 
vires et corpus, non dissimulatio, deserebant :" 
Vespasian in a jest, sitting upon the stool, " Ut 
puto Deus fio:" Galba with a sentence, " Feri, si 
ex re sit populi Romani," holding forth his neck ; 
Septimius Severus in dispatch, " Adeste, si quid 
mihi restat agendum, " and the like. Certainly 
the Stoics bestowed too much cost upon death, and 
by their great preparations made it appear more 
fearful. Better, saith he, " qui finem vitse extre- 
mum inter munera ponat naturae." It is as natural 
to die as to be born ; and to a little infant, per- 
haps, the one is as painful as the other. He that 
dies in an earnest pursuit, is like one that is 
wounded in hot blood ; who, for the time, scarce 
feels the hurt ; and therefore a mind fixed and 
bent upon somewhat that is good, doth avert the 
dolours of death ; but, above all, believe it, the 
sweetest canticle is, " Nunc dimittis" when a 
man hath obtained worthy ends and expectations. 
Death hath this also, that it openeth the gate to 
good fame, and extinguisheth envy: " Extinctus 
• amabitur idem." 


RELIGION being the chief band of human 
society, it is a happy thing when itself is well 
contained within the true band of unity. The 
quarrels and divisions about religion w r ere evils 
unknown to the heathen. The reason was, be- 
cause the religion of the heathen consisted rather 
in rites and ceremonies, than in any constant 
belief: for you may imagine what kind of faith 
theirs was, when the chief doctors and fathers of 
their church were the poets. But the true God 
hath this attribute, that he is a jealous God ; and 
therefore his worship and religion will endure no 
mixture nor partner. We shall therefore speak 
a few w T ords concerning the unity of the church ; 
what are the fruits thereof; what the bounds ; and 
what the means. 

The fruits of unity (next unto the well pleasing 
of God, which is all in all) are two ; the one to- 
wards those that are without the church, the other 
towards those that are within. For the former, 
it is certain, that heresies and schisms are of all 
others the greatest scandals ; yea, more than cor- 
ruption of manners : for as in the natural body 
a wound or solution of continuity is w r orse than 
a corrupt humour, so in the spiritual : so that 


nothing doth so much keep men out of the church, 
and drive men out of the church, as breach of 
unity; and, therefore, whensoever it cometh to 
that pass that one saith, " ecce in deserto," another 
saith, " ecce in penetralibus ;" that is, when some 
men seek Christ in the conventicles of heretics, 
and others in an outward face of a church, that 
voice had need continually to sound in men's ears, 
" nolite exire," — " go not out." The doctor of 
the Gentiles (the propriety of whose vocation drew 
him to have a special care of those without) saith, 
" If a heathen come in, and hear you speak with 
several tongues, will he not say that you are 
mad?" and, certainly, it is little better: when 
atheists and profane persons do hear of so many 
discordant and contrary opinions in religion, it 
doth avert them from the church, and maketh 
them " to sit down in the chair of the scorners." 
It is but a light thing to be vouched in so serious 
a matter, but yet it expresseth well the deformity. 
There is a master of scoffing that in his catalogue 
of books of a feigned library, sets down this title 
of a book, " The Morris- Dance of Heretics :" for, 
indeed, every sect of them hath a diverse posture, 
or cringe, by themselves, which cannot but move 
derision in worldlings and depraved politics, who 
are apt to contemn holy things. 

As for the fruit towards those that are within, 
it is peace, which containeth infinite blessings ; 
it established faith ; it kindleth charity ; the out- 


ward peace of the church distilleth into peace of 
conscience, and it turneth the labours of writing 
and reading of controversies into treatises of mor- 
tification and devotion. 

Concerning the bounds of unity, the true placing 
of them importeth exceedingly. There appear to 
fee two extremes : for to certain zealots all speech 
of pacification is odious. " Is it peace, Jehu ?" — 
" What hast thou to do with peace ? turn thee 
behind me." Peace is not the matter, but fol- 
lowing, and party. Contrariwise, certain Laodi- 
ceans and lukewarm persons think they may ac- 
commodate points of religion by middle ways, and 
taking part of both, and witty reconcilements, as 
if they would make an arbitrement between God 
and man. Both these extremes are to be avoided; 
which will be done if the league of Christians, 
penned by our Saviour himself, were in the two 
cross clauses thereof soundly and plainly expoun- 
ded: " He that is not with us is against us;" 
and again, " He that is not against us is with 
us;" that is, if the points fundamental, and of sub- 
stance in religion, were truly discerned and dis- 
tinguished from points not merely of faith, but of 
opinion, order, or good intention. This is a thing 
may seem to many a matter trivial, and done 
already ; but if it were done less partially, it would 
be embraced more generally. 

Of this I may give only this advice, according 
to my small model. Men ought to take heed of 



rending* God's church by two kinds of controver- 
sies ; the one is, when the matter of the point con- 
troverted is too small and light, not worth the heat 
and strife about it, kindled only by contradiction ; 
for, as it is noted by one of the fathers, Christ's 
coat indeed had no seam, but the church's vesture 
was of divers colours; whereupon he saith, " in 
veste varietas sit, scissura non sit," they be two 
things, unity and uniformity; the other is, when 
the matter of the point controverted is great, but 
it is driven to an over great subtilty and obscurity, 
so that it becometh a thing rather ingenious than 
substantial. A marl that is of judgment and un- 
derstanding shall sometimes hear ignorant men 
differ, and know well within himself, that those 
which so differ mean one thing, and yet they them- 
selves would never agree : and if it come so to 
pass in that distance of judgment, which is be- 
tween man and man, shall we not think that God 
above, that knows the heart, doth not discern that 
frail men, in some of their contradictions, intend 
the same thing and accepteth of both ? The nature 
of such controversies is excellently expressed by 
St. Paul, in the warning and precept that he 
giveth concerning the same, " devita profanas vo- 
cum novitates, et oppositiones falsi nominis scien- 
tiae." Men create oppositions which are not, and 
put them into new terms so fixed, as whereas the 
meaning ought to govern the term, the term in 
effect governeth the meaning. There be also two 


false peaces, or unities: the one, when the peace 
is grounded but upon an implicit ignorance ; for 
all colours will agree in the dark: the other, when 
it is pieced up upon a direct admission of contra- 
ries in fundamental points : for truth and false- 
hood, in such things, are like the iron and clay in 
the toes of Nebuchadnezzar's image ; they may 
cleave, but they will not incorporate. 

Concerning the means of procuring unity, men 
must beware, that, in the procuring or muniting 
of religious unity, they do not dissolve and deface 
the laws of charity and of human society. There 
be two swords amongst Christians, the spiritual 
and temporal ; and both have their due office and 
place in the maintenance of religion : but we may 
not take up the third sword, which is Mahomet's 
sword, or like unto it : that is, to propagate reli- 
gion by wars, or by sanguinary persecutions to 
force consciences ; except it be in cases of overt 
scandal, blasphemy, or intermixture of practice 
against the state ; much less to nourish seditions ; 
to authorize conspiracies and rebellions ; to put 
the sword into the people's hands, and the like, 
tending to the subversion of all government, which 
is the ordinance of God ; for this is but to dash 
the first table against the second ; and so to con- 
sider men as Christians, as we forget that they 
are men. Lucretius the poet, when he beheld the 
act of Agamemnon, that could endure the sacri- 
ficing of his own daughter, exclaimed : 


u Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum. ,, 
What would he have said, if he had known of 
the massacre in France, or the powder treason of 
England ? He would have been seven times more 
epicure and atheist than he was ; for as the tem- 
poral sword is to be drawn with great circumspec- 
tion in cases of religion, so it is a thing monstrous 
to put into the hands of the common people ; let 
that be left unto the anabaptists, and other furies. 
It was great blasphemy, when the devil said, " I 
will ascend and be like the Highest;" but it is 
greater blasphemy to personate God, and bring 
him in saying, " I will descend, and be like the 
prince of darkness :" and what is it better, to 
make the cause of religion to descend to the cruel 
and execrable actions of murdering princes, but- 
chery of people, and subversion of states and go- 
vernments? Surely this is to bring down the 
Holy Ghost, instead of the likeness of a dove, in 
the shape of a vulture or raven ; and to set out of 
the bark of a Christian church a flag of a bark of 
pirates and assassins ; therefore it is most neces- 
sary that the church by doctrine and decree, 
princes by their sword, and all learnings, both 
Christian and moral, as by their Mercury rod do 
damn, and send to hell for ever, those facts and 
opinions tending to the support of the same, as 
hath been already in good part done. Surely in 
councils concerning religion, that council of the 
apostle would be prefixed, " Ira hominis non im- 


plet justitiam Dei:" and it was a notable obser- 
vation of a wise father, and no less ingenuously 
confessed, that those w T hich held and persuaded 
pressure of consciences, were commonly interested 
therein themselves for their own ends. 


REVENGE is a kind of wild justice, which 
the more man's nature runs to, the more 
ought law to weed it out: for as for the first 
wrong, it doth but offend the law, but the revenge 
of that wrong putteth the law out of office. Cer- 
tainly, in taking revenge, a man is but even with 
his enemy ; but in passing it over, he is superior ; 
for it is a prince's part to pardon : and Solomon, 
I am sure, saith, "It is the glory of a man to 
pass by an offence." That which is past is gone 
and irrevocable, and wise men have enough to do 
with things present and to come ; therefore they 
do but trifle with themselves, that labour in past 
matters. There is no man doth a wrong for the 
wrong's sake, but thereby to purchase himself 
profit, or pleasure, or honour, or the like ; there- 
fore why should I be angry with a man for loving 
himself better than me ? And if any man should 
do wrong, merely out of ill-nature, why, yet it is 
but like the thorn or brier, which prick and scratch, 


because they can do no other. The most tolerable 
Sort of revenge is for those wrongs which there is 
no law to remedy ; but then, let a man take heed 
the revenge be such as there is no law to punish, 
else a man's enemy is still before hand, and it is 
two for one. Some, when they take revenge, are 
desirous the party should know whence it cometh : 
this is the more generous ; for the delight seemeth 
to be not so much in doing the hurt as in making 
the party repent : but base and crafty cowards are 
like the arrow that flieth in the dark. Cosmus, 
duke of Florence, had a desperate saying against 
perfidious or neglecting friends, as if those wrongs 
were unpardonable. " You shall read," saith he, 
u that we are commanded to forgive our enemies, 
but you never read that we are commanded to for- 
give our friends. " But yet the spirit of Job was 
in a better tune ; " Shall we/' saith he, " take 
good at God's hands, and not be content to take 
evil also T* and so of friends in a proportion. 
This is certain, that a man that studieth revenge, 
keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise 
would heal and do well. Public revenges are for 
the most part fortunate ; as that for the death of 
Caesar : for the death of Pertinax ; for the death 
of Henry the Third of France ; and many more. 
But in private revenges it is not so ; nay, rather 
vindictive persons live the life of witches : who, as 
they are mischievous, so end they unfortunate. 



IT was a high speech of Seneca (after the man- 
ner of the Stoics), that the good things which 
belong to prosperity are to be wished, but the good 
things that belong to adversity are to be admired : 
" Bona rerum secundarum optabilia, adversarum 
mirabilia." Certainly, if miracles be the command 
over nature, they appear most in adversity. It is 
yet a higher speech of his than the other (much 
too high for a heathen), " It is true greatness to 
have in one the frailty of a man, and the security 
of a God:" — " Vere magnum habere fragilitatem 
hominis, securitatem Dei." This would have done 
better in poesy, where transcendencies are more 
allowed; and the poets, indeed, have been busy 
with it ; for it is in effect the thing which is figured 
in that strange fiction of the ancient poets, which 
seemeth not to be without mystery; nay, and to 
have some approach to the state of a Christian, 
" that Hercules, when he went to unbind Prome- 
theus (by whom human nature is represented), 
sailed the length of the great ocean in an earthen 
pot or pitcher, lively describing Christian reso- 
lution, that saileth in the frail bark of the flesh 
through the waves of the world." But to speak 
in a mean, the virtue of prosperity is temperance, 
the virtue of adversity is fortitude, which in morals 


is the more heroical virtue. Prosperity is the 
blessing of the Old Testament, adversity is the 
blessing of the New, which carrieth the greater 
benediction, and the clearer revelation of God's 
favour. Yet even in the Old Testament, if you 
listen to David's harp, you shall hear as many 
hearse-like airs as carols ; and the pencil of the 
Holy Ghost hath laboured more in describing the 
afflictions of Job than the felicities of Solomon. 
Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes ; 
and adversity is not without comforts and hopes. 
We see in needle works and embroideries, it is 
more pleasing to have a lively work upon a sad 
and solemn ground, than to have a dark and me- 
lancholy work upon a lightsome ground: judge, 
therefore, of the pleasure of the heart by the plea- 
sure of the eye. Certainly virtue is like precious 
odours, most fragrant when they are incensed, or 
crushed: for prosperity doth best discover vice, 
but adversity doth best discover virtue. 


DISSIMULATION is but a faint kind of po- 
licy, or wisdom ; for it asketh a strong wit 
and a strong heart to know when to tell truth, and 
to do it : therefore it is the weaker sort of politi- 
cians that are the greatest dissemblers. 


Tacitus saith, " Livia sorted well with the arts 
of her husband, and dissimulation of her son ; at- 
tributing arts or policy to Augustus, and dissimu- 
lation to Tiberius :" and again, when Mucianus 
encourageth Vespasian to take arms against Vitel- 
lius, he saith, " We rise not against the piercing- 
judgment of Augustus, nor the extreme caution or 
closeness of Tiberius :" these properties of arts or 
policy, and dissimulation or closeness, are indeed 
habits and faculties several, and to be distinguished ; 
for if a man have that penetration of judgment as 
he can discern What things are to be laid open, and 
what to be secreted, and what to be shewed at half 
lights, and to whom and when, (which indeed are 
arts of state, and arts of life, as Tacitus well calleth 
them,) to him a habit of dissimulation is a hinder- 
ance and a poorness. But if a man cannot attain 
to that judgment, then it is left to him generally 
to be close, and a dissembler : for where a man 
cannot choose or vary in particulars, there it is 
good to take the safest and wariest way in general, 
like the going softly, by one that cannot well see. 
Certainly, the ablest men that ever were, have had 
all an openness and frankness of dealing, and a 
name of certainty and veracity : but then they were 
like horses well managed, for they could tell pas- 
sing well when to stop or turn ; and at such times 
when they thought the case indeed required dis- 
simulation, if then they used it, it came to pass 
that the former opinion spread abroad, of their 


good faith and clearness of dealing, made them 
almost invisible. 

There be three degrees of this hiding and veiling 
of a man's self; the first, closeness, reservation, 
and secrecy, when a man leaveth himself without 
observation, or without hold to be taken, what he 
is ; the second dissimulation in the negative, when 
a man lets fall signs and arguments, that he is not 
that he is ; and the third simulation in the affirma- 
tive, when a man industriously and expressly feigns 
and pretends to be that he is not. 

For the first of these, secrecy, it is indeed the 
virtue of a confessor ; and assuredly the secret man 
heareth many confessions, for who will open him- 
self to a blab or babbler ? But if a man be thought 
secret, it inviteth discovery, as the more close air 
sucketh in the more open ; and, as in confession, 
the revealing is not for worldly use, but for the 
ease of a man's heart, so secret men come to the 
knowledge of many things in that kind ; while 
men rather discharge their minds than impart their 
minds. In few words, mysteries are due to se- 
crecy. Besides (to say truth) nakedness is un- 
comely, as well in mind as body ; and it addeth no 
small reverence to men's manners and actions, if 
they be not altogether open. As for talkers, and I 
futile persons, they are commonly vain and credu- 
lous withal: for he that talketh what he knoweth, 
will also talk what he knoweth not ; therefore set 
it down, that a habit of secrecy is both politic and 


moral : and in this part it is good, that a mans 
face give his tongue leave to speak ; for the dis- 
covery of a man's self, by the tracts of his counte- 
nance, is a great weakness and betraying, by how 
much it is many times more marked and believed 
than a man's words. 

For the second, which is dissimulation, it fol- 
loweth many times upon secrecy by a necessity ; 
so that he that will be secret must be a dissembler 
in some degree ; for men are too cunning to suffer 
a man to keep an indifferent carriage between both, 
and to be secret, without swaying the balance on 
either side. They will so beset a man with ques- 
tions, and draw him on, and pick it out of him, 
that, without an absurd silence, he must shew an 
inclination one way ; or if he do not, they will 
gather as much by his silence as by his speech. 
As for equivocations, or oraculous speeches, they 
cannot hold out long : so that no man can be se- 
cret, except he give himself a little scope of dis- 
simulation, which is, as it were, but the skirts, or 
train of secrecy. 

But for the third degree, which is simulation 
and false profession, that I hold more culpable, and 
less politic, except it be in great and rare matters : 
and, therefore, a general custom of simulation 
(which is this last degree,) is a vice rising either 
of a natural falseness, or fearfulness, or of a mind 
that hath some main faults ; which because a man 
must needs disguise, it maketh him practise simu- 


lation in other things, lest his hand should be out 
of ure. 

The advantages of simulation and dissimulation 
are three : first, to lay asleep opposition, and to 
surprise ; for where a man's intentions are published, 
it is an alarum to call up all that are against them : 
the second is, to reserve to a man's self a fair re- 
treat ; for if a man engage himself by a manifest 
declaration, he must go through, or take a fall : the 
third is, the better to discover the mind of another ; 
for to him that opens himself men will hardly 
shew themselves averse ; but w r ill fain let him go 
on, and turn their freedom of speech to freedom of 
thought; and therefore it is a good shrewd proverb 
of the Spaniard, "Tell a lie and find a troth;" as 
if there were no way of discovery but by simulation. 
There be also three disadvantages to set it even ; the 
first, that simulation and dissimulation commonly 
carry with them a shew of fearfulness, which, in any 
business doth spoil the feathers of round flying up 
to the mark ; the second, that it puzzleth and per- 
plexeth the conceits of many, that, perhaps, would 
otherwise co-operate with him, and makes a man 
walk almost alone to his own ends ; the third, and 
greatest, is, that it depriveth a man of one of tbe 
most principal instruments for action, which is 
trust and belief. The best composition and tem- 
perature is, to have openness in fame and opinion ; 
secrecy in habit ; dissimulation in seasonable use ; 
and a power to feign if there be no remedy. 



I^HE joys of parents are secret, and so are their 
griefs and fears ; they cannot utter the one, 
nor they will not utter the other. Children sweeten 
labours, but they make misfortunes more bitter : 
they increase the cares of life, but they mitigate 
the remembrance of death. The perpetuity by 
generation is common to beasts ; but memory, 
merit, and noble works, are proper to men : and , 
surely a man shall see the noblest works and foun- 
dations have proceeded from childless men, which 
have sought to express the images of their minds, 
where those of their bodies have failed; so the care 
of posterity is most in them that have no posterity. 
They that are the first raisers of their houses are 
most indulgent towards their children, beholding 
them as the continuance, not only of their kind, but 
of their work ; and so both children and creatures. 

The difference in affection of parents towards 
their several children, is many times unequal, and 
sometimes unworthy, especially in the mother ; as 
Solomon saith, " A wise son rejoiceth the father, 
but an ungracious son shames the mother." A man 
shall see, where there is a house full of children, 
one or two of the eldest respected, and the youngest 
made wantons ; but in the midst some that are as 
it were forgotten, who, many times, nevertheless, 


prove the best. The illiberality of parents, in al- 
lowance towards their children, is a harmful error, 
makes them base ; acquaints them with shifts ; 
makes them sort with mean company ; and makes 
them surfeit more when they come to plenty : and 
therefore the proof is best when men keep their 
authority towards their children, but not their purse. 
Men have a foolish manner (both parents, and 
schoolmasters, and servants,) in creating and breed- 
ing* an emulation between brothers during child- 
hood, which many times sorteth to discord when 
they are men, and disturbeth families. The Italians 
make little difference between children and ne- 
phews, or near kinsfolks ; but so they be of the 
lump, they care not, though they pass not through 
their own body; and, to say truth, in nature it is 
much a like matter ; insomuch that we see a ne- 
phew sometimes resembleth an uncle, or a kinsman, 
more -than his own parents, as the blood happens. 
Let parents choose betimes the vocations and courses 
they mean their children should take, for then they 
are most flexible ; and let them not too much apply 
themselves to the disposition of their children, as 
thinking they will take best to that which they 
have most mind to. It is true, that if the affection, 
or aptness of the children be extraordinary, then it 
is good not to cross it ; but generally the precept 
is good, " optimum elige, suave et facile illud faciet 
consuetudo." — Younger brothers are commonly for- 
tunate, but seldom or never where the elder are dis- 



HE that hath wife and children hath given 
hostages to fortune ; for they are impedi- 
ments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mis- 
chief. Certainly the best works, and of greatest 
merit for the public, have proceeded from the un- 
married or childless men ; which, both in affection 
and means, have married and endowed the public. 
Yet it were great reason that those that have chil- 
dren should have greatest care of future times, unto 
which they know they must transmit their dearest 
pledges. Some there are, who, though they lead 
a single life, yet their thoughts do end with them- 
selves, and account future times impertinences; 
nay, there are some other that account wife and 
children but as bills of charges ; nay more, there 
are some foolish rich covetous men, that take a pride 
in having no children, because they may be thought 
so much the richer ; for, perhaps, they have heard 
some talk, " Such an one is a great rich man," and 
another except to it, " Yea, but he hath a great 
charge of children; " as if it were an abatement to 
his riches : but the most ordinary cause of a single 
life is liberty, especially in certain self- pleasing and 
humorous minds, which are so sensible of every 
restraint, as they will go near to think their girdles 



and garters to be bonds and shackles. Unmarried 
men are best friends, best masters, best servants ; 
but not always best subjects; for they are light 
to run away ; and almost all fugitives are of that 
condition. A single life doth well with churchmen, 
for charity will hardly water the ground where it 
must first fill a pool. It is indifferent for judges 
and magistrates ; for if they be facile and corrupt, 
you shall have a servant five times worse than a 
wife. For soldiers, I find the generals commonly, 
in their hortatives, put men in mind of their wives 
and children ; and I think the despising of marriage 
among the Turks maketh the vulgar soldier more 
base. Certainly wife and children are a kind of 
discipline of humanity; and single men, though 
they may be many times more charitable, because 
their means are less exhaust, yet, on the other side, 
they are more cruel and hardhearted (good to make 
severe inquisitors,) because their tenderness is not 
so oft called upon. Grave natures, led by custom, 
and therefore constant, are commonly loving hus- 
bands, as was said of Ulysses, " vetulam suam prce- 
tulit immortalitati." Chaste women are often proud 
and froward as presuming upon the merit of their 
chastity. It is one of the best bonds, both of chas- 
tity and obedience, in the wife, if she think her 
husband wise ; which she will never do if she find 
him jealous. Wives are young men's mistresses, 
companions for middle age, and old men's nurses; 
so as a man may have a quarrel to marry when he 


will : but yet he was reputed one of the wise men, 
that made answer to the question when a man should 
marry : — "A young" man not yet, an elder man not 
at all." It is often seen, that bad husbands have 
very good wives ; whether it be that it raiseth the 
price of their husband's kindness when it comes, or 
that the wives take a pride in their patience ; but 
this never fails, if the bad husbands were of their 
own choosing, against their friends' consent, for 
then they will be sure to make good their own folly. 


THERE be none of the affections which have 
been noted to fascinate, or bewitch, but love 
and envy : they both have vehement wishes ; they 
frame themselves readily into imaginations and 
suggestions ; and they come easily into the eye, 
especially upon the presence of the objects, which 
are the points that conduce to fascination, if any 
such thing there be. We see, likewise, the scrip- 
ture calleth envy an evil eye ; and the astrologers 
call the evil influences of the stars evil aspects ; so 
that still there seemeth to be acknowledged, in the 
act of envy, an ejaculation, or irradiation of the 
eye : nay, some have been so curious as to note, 
that the times, when the stroke or percussion of 
an envious eye doth most hurt, are, when the party 


envied is beheld in glory or triumph ; for that sets 
an edge upon envy : and besides, at such times, 
the spirits of the person envied do come forth most 
into the outward parts, and so meet the blow. 

But leaving these curiosities (though not un- 
worthy to be thought on in fit place), we will handle 
what persons are apt to envy others ; what per- 
sons are most subject to be envied themselves : and 
what is the difference between public and private 

A man that hath no virtue in himself, ever en- 
vieth virtue in others ; for men's minds will either 
feed upon their own good, or upon others' evil ; 
and who wanteth the one will prey upon the other ; 
and whoso is out of hope to attain to another's vir- 
tue, will seek to come at even hand, by depressing 
another's fortune. 

A man that is busy and inquisitive is commonly 
envious ; for to know much of other men's matters 
cannot be, because all that ado may concern his 
own estate ; therefore it must needs be that he 
taketh a kind of play-pleasure in looking upon the 
fortunes of others : neither can he that mindeth 
but his own business find much matter for envy ; 
for envy is a gadding passion, and walketh the 
streets, and doth not keep home : " Non est cu- 
riosus, quin idem sit malevolus." 

Men of noble birth are noted to be envious to- 
wards new men when they rise ; for the distance 
is altered ; and it is like a deceit of the eye, that 

OF ENVY. 27 

when others come on they think themselves go 

Deformed persons and eunuchs, and old men and 
bastards, are envious : for he that cannot possibly 
mend his own case, will do what he can to impair 
another's ; except these defects light upon a very 
brave and heroical nature, which thinketh to make 
his natural wants part of his honour; in that it 
should be said, "That an eunuch, or a lame man, 
did such great matters ;" affecting the honour of 
a miracle : as it was in Narses the eunuch, and 
Agesilaus and Tamerlane, that w T ere lame men. 

The same is the case of men who rise after cala- 
mities and misfortunes ; for they are as men fallen 
out with the times, and think other men's harms 
a redemption of their own sufferings. 

They that desire to excel in too many matters, 
out of levity and vain glory, are ever envious, for 
they cannot want work : it being impossible, but 
many, in some one of those things, should surpass 
them ; which was the character of Adrian the em- 
peror, that mortally envied poets and painters, and 
artificers in works, wherein he had a vein to excel. 

Lastly, near kinsfolks and fellows in office, and 
those that have been bred together, are more apt 
to envy their equals when they are raised ; for it 
doth upbraid unto them their own fortunes, and 
pointeth at them, and cometh oftener into their re- 
membrance, and incurreth likewise more into the 
note of others ; and envy ever redoubleth from 


speech and fame. Cain's envy was the more vile 
and malignant towards his brother Abel, because 
when his sacrifice was better accepted, there was 
no body to look on. Thus much for those that are 
apt to envy. 

Concerning those that are more or less subject 
to envy. First, persons of eminent virtue, when 
they are advanced, are less envied; for their fortune 
seemeth but due unto them ; and no man envieth 
the payment of a debt, but rewards and liberality 
rather. Again, envy is ever joined with the com- 
paring of a man's self; and where there is no 
comparison, no envy ; and therefore kings are not 
envied but by kings. Nevertheless, it is to be 
noted, that unworthy persons are most envied at 
their first coming in, and afterwards overcome it 
better; whereas, contrariwise, persons of worth and 
merit are most envied when their fortune continueth 
long; for by that time, though their virtue be the 
same, yet it hath not the same lustre, for fresh men 
grow up that darken it. 

Persons of noble blood are less envied in their 
rising; for it seemeth but right done to their birth : 
besides, there seemeth not much added to their for- 
tune; and envy is as the sunbeams, that beat hotter 
upon a bank, or steep rising ground, than upon a 
flat; and, for the same reason, those that are ad- 
vanced by degrees are less envied than those that 
are advanced suddenly, and " per saltum." 

Those that have joined with their honour great 

OF ENVY. 29 

travels, cares, or perils, are less subject to envy; 
for men think that they earn their honours hardly, 
and pity them sometimes ; and pity ever healeth 
envy : wherefore you shall observe, that the more 
deep and sober sort of politic persons, in their great- 
ness, are ever bemoaning* themselves what a life 
they lead, chanting a " quanta patimur ;" not that 
they feel it so, but only to abate the edge of envy: 
but this is to be understood of business that is laid 
upon men, and not such as they call unto them- 
selves ; for nothing increaseth envy more than an 
unnecessary and ambitious engrossing of business ; 
and nothing doth extinguish envy more than for a 
great person to preserve all other inferior officers 
in their full rights and pre-eminences of their 
places ; for, by that means, there be so many 
screens between him and envy. 

Above all, those are most subject to envy, which 
carry the greatness of their fortunes in an insolent 
and proud manner : being never well but while they 
are showing* how great they are, either by outward 
pomp, or by triumphing over all opposition or com- 
petition : whereas wise men will rather do sacrifice 
to envy, in suffering themselves, sometimes of pur- 
pose, to be crossed and overborne in things that do 
not much concern them. Notwithstanding so much 
is true, that the carriage of greatness in a plain and 
open manner (so it be without arrogancy and vain 
glory), doth draw less envy than if it be in a more 
crafty and cunning fashion ; for in that course a 
man doth but disavow fortune, and seemeth to be 


conscious of his own want in worth, and doth but 
teach others to envy him. 

Lastly, to conclude this part, as we said in the 
beginning that the act of envy had somewhat in it of 
witchcraft, so there is no other cure of envy but the 
cure of witchcraft ; and that is, to remove the lot 
(as they call it), and to lay it upon another; for 
which purpose, the wiser sort of great persons bring 
in ever upon the stage somebody upon whom to 
derive the envy that would come upon themselves ; 
sometimes upon ministers and servants, sometimes 
upon colleagues and associates, and the like ; and, 
for that turn, there are never wanting some persons 
of violent and undertaking natures, who, so they 
may have power and business, will take it at any 

Now, to speak of public envy : there is yet some 
good in public envy, whereas in private there is 
none; for public envy is as an ostracism, that 
eclipseth men when they grow too great : and 
therefore it is a bridle also to great ones to keep 
them within bounds. 

This envy, being in the Latin word " invidia," 
goeth in the modern languages by the name of dis 
contentment ; of which we shall speak in handling 
sedition. It is a disease in a state like to infection 
for as infection spreadeth upon that which is sound, 
and tainteth it ; so, when envy is gotten once into 
a state, it traduceth even the best actions thereof, 
and turneth them into an ill odour ; and therefore 
there is little won by intermingling of plausible 

OF ENVY. 31 

actions ; for that doth argue but a weakness and fear 
of envy, which hurteth so much the more, as it is 
likewise usual in infections, which, if you fear 
them, you call them upon you. 

This public envy seemeth to beat chiefly upon 
principal officers or ministers, rather than upon kings 
and estates themselves. But this is a sure rule, 
that if the envy upon the minister be great, when 
the cause of it in him is small ; or if. the envy 
be general in a manner upon all the ministers of 
an estate, then the envy (though hidden) is truly 
upon the state itself. And so much of public envy 
or discontentment, and the difference thereof from 
private envy, which was handled in the first place. 

We will add this in general, touching the affec- 
tion of envy, that of all other affections it is the 
most importune and continual ; for of other affec- 
tions there is occasion given but now and then ; 
and therefore it was well said, " Invidia festos dies 
non agit :" for it is ever working upon some or 
other. And it is also noted, that love and envy do 
make a man pine, which other affections do not, 
because they are not so continual. It is also the 
vilest affection, and the most depraved ; for which 
cause it is the proper attribute of the devil r who 
is called " The envious man, that soweth tares 
amongst the wheat by night ;" as it always cometh 
to pass/that envy worketh subtilly, and in the dark, 
and to the prejudice of good things, such as is the 



THE stage is more beholding to love, than the 
life of man ; for as to the stage, love is ever 
matter of comedies, and now and then of tragedies ; 
but in life it doth much mischief; sometimes like 
a siren, sometimes like a fury. You may observe, 
that amongst all the great and worthy persons 
(whereof the memory remaineth, either ancient or 
recent,) there is not one that hath been transported 
to the mad degree of love, which shews, that great 
spirits and great business do keep out this weak 
passion. You must except, nevertheless, Marcus 
Antonius, the half partner of the empire of Rome, 
and Appius Claudius, the decemvir and lawgiver ; 
whereof the former was indeed a voluptuous man, 
and inordinate ; but the latter was an austere and 
wise man : and therefore it seems (though rarely,) 
that love can find entrance, not only into an open 
heart, but also into a heart well fortified, if watch 
be not well kept. It is a poor saying of Epicurus, 
" Satis magnum alter alteri theatrum sumus ;" as 
if man, made for the contemplation of heaven, and 
all noble objects, should do nothing but kneel 
before a little idol, and make himself a subject, 
though not of the mouth (as beasts are,) yet of the 
eye, which was given him for higher purposes. It 
is a strange thing to note the excess of this passion, 


and how it braves the nature and value of things 
by this, that the speaking in a perpetual hyperbole, 
is comely in nothing but in love : neither is it merely 
in the phrase ; for whereas it hath been well said, 
"That the arch flatterer, with whom all the petty 
flatterers have intelligence, is a man's self;" cer- 
tainly the lover is more ; for there was never proud 
man thought so absurdly well of himself as the lover 
doth of the person loved ; and therefore it was well 
said, " That it is impossible to love and to be wise." 
Neither doth this weakness appear to others only, 
and not to the party loved, but to the loved most of 
all, except the love be reciprocal ; for it is a true 
rule, that love is ever rewarded, either with the re- 
ciprocal, or with an inward, and secret contempt ; 
by how much the more men ought to beware of 
this passion, which loseth not only other things, 
but itself. As for the other losses the poet's relation 
doth well figure them: "That he that preferred 
Helena, quitted the gifts of Juno and Pallas ; for 
whosoever esteemeth too much of amorous affection, 
quitteth both riches and wisdom. This passion 
hath his floods in the very times of weakness, which 
are, great prosperity and great adversity, though 
this latter hath been less observed ; both which 
times kindle love, and make it more fervent, and 
therefore shew it to be the child of folly. They do 
best, w T ho, if they cannot but admit love, yet make it 
keep quarter, and sever it wholly from their serious 
affairs and actions of life : for if it check once with 


business, it troubleth men's fortunes, and maketh 
men that they can no ways be true to their own 
ends. I know not how, but martial men are given 
to love : I think it is, but as they are given to 
wine ; for perils commonly ask to be paid in plea- 
sures. There is in man's nature a secret inclination 
and motion towards love of others, which, if it be 
not spent upon some one or a few, doth naturally 
spread itself towards many, and maketh men be- 
come humane and charitable, as it is seen some- 
times in friars. Nuptial love maketh mankind ; 
friendly love perfecteth it; but wanton love cor- 
rupteth and embaseth it. 


MEN in great place are thrice servants; ser- 
vants of the sovereign or state, servants of 
fame, and servants of business ; so as they have 
no freedom, neither in their persons, nor in their 
actions, nor in their times. It is a strange desire 
to seek power and to lose liberty ; or to seek power 
over others, and to lose power over a man's self. 
The rising unto place is laborious, and by pains 
men come to greater pains ; and it is sometimes 
base, and by indignities men come to dignities. 
The standing is slippery, and the regress is either 
a downfall, or at least an eclipse, which is a me- 


lancholy thing : " Cum non sis qui fueris, non esse 
cur velis vivere." Nay, retire men cannot when 
they would, neither will they when it were reason; 
but are impatient of privateness even in age and 
sickness, which require the shadow; like old towns- 
men, that will be still sitting at their street door, 
though thereby they offer age to scorn. Certainly 
great persons had need to borrow other men's opi- 
nions to think themselves happy ; for if they judge 
by their own feeling, they cannot find it: but if 
they think with themselves what other men think 
of them, and that other men would fain be as they 
are, then they are happy as it were by report, when, 
perhaps, they find the contrary within : for they 
are the first that find their own griefs, though they 
be the last that find their own faults. Certainly 
men in great fortunes are strangers to themselves, 
and while they are in the puzzle of business they 
have no time to tend their health either of body or 
mind : " Illi mors gravis incubat, qui notus nimis 
omnibus, ignotus moritur sibi." In place there is 
license to do good and evil ; whereof the latter is 
a curse : for in evil the best condition is not to 
will ; the second not to can. But power to do 
good is the true and lawful end of aspiring ; for 
good thoughts (though God accept them), yet to- 
wards men are little better than good dreams, except 
they be put in act; and that cannot be without 
power and place, as the vantage and commanding 
ground. Merit and good works is the end of man's 

discharge of thy place set before thee the ht 

_.- f=: :.- ir=: --- - ' - ' ---- '-'--- 
of those that hare carried tlwieliei ill in the 
aae place ; not to se t off thyself by taxing their 
Memory, but to direct thyself what to avoid. — 
~ -: :_ " .T.-ri.. - -.:/.:.: :\~^— ;: ^mii. ::' 
Sail times and persons ; bat yet se t it down to 
:o create good jm.ndf.ifi is to fol- 
Rednee things to the first institution, ami 
herein and how they hare degenerated; 
bat yet ask counsel of both times; of the ancient 

-_:_, -: ; := : ^ :i _ ::' -;.. '. .".: ::i: -:_:- :i 
fittest. Seek to make thy coarse regnlar, that men 
may know beforehand what they may expect ; bat 
he not too positive ami peremptory; ami express 
thys t kem thoa di^io s tsi from thy rale. 

?.:.-: t - : : _ - ■ - - \ - - • --.: i:* 1:^5- 
- 1, : _->L:.:::r. : iz.: r.-:_-: .-_r_r v." :._•:_: ; 
in silence, ami " de facto," than raare it with claims I 

.T„j-r ?r™ — - ^-- _-- -:z :-.:.•-:: .-- 


in chief than to be busy in all. Embrace and in- 
vite helps and advices touching- the execution of 
thy place ; and do not drive away such as bring 
thee information as meddlers, but accept of them 
in good part. The vices of authority are chiefly 
four; delays, corruption, roughness, and facility. 
For delays give easy access ; keep times appointed ; 
go through with that which is in hand, and inter- 
lace not business but of necessity. For corruption. 
do not only bind thine own hands or thy servant's 
hands from taking, but bind the hands of suitors 
also from offering; for integrity used doth the one; 
but integrity professed, and with a manifest detes- 
tation of bribery, doth the other ; and avoid not 
only the fault, but the suspicion. Whosoever is 
found variable, and changeth manifestly without 
manifest cause, giveth suspicion of corruption : 
therefore, always when thou changest thine opi- 
nion or course, profess it plainly, and declare it. 
together with the reasons that move thee to change, 
and do not think to steal it. A servant or a fa- 
vourite, if he be inward, and no other apparent 
cause of esteem, is commonly thought but a by- 
way to close corruption. For roughness, it is a 
needless cause of discontent : severity breedeth 
fear, but roughness breedeth hate. Even reproofs 
from authority ought to be grave, and not taunting. 
As for facility, it is worse than bribery; for bribe- 
come but now and then ; but if importunity or idle 
respects lead a man, he shall never be without ; as 


Solomon saith, "To respect persons is not good, 
for such a man will transgress for a piece of bread." 
It is most true that was anciently spoken. "A 
place sheweth the man ; and it sheweth some to 
the better and some to the worse :" " omnium con- 
sensu capax imperii, nisi imperasset," saith Taci- 
tus of Galba; but of Vespasian he saith, " solus 
imperantium, Vespasianus mutatus in melius ;" 
though the one was meant of sufficiency, the other 
of manners and affection. It is an assured sign 
of a worthy and generous spirit, whom honour 
amends ; for honour is, or should be, the place of 
virtue ; and as in nature things move violently to 
their place, and calmly in their place, so virtue in 
ambition is violent, in authority settled and calm. 
All rising to great place is by a winding stair ; 
and if there be factions, it is good to side a man's 
self whilst he is in the rising, and to balance him- 
self when he is placed. Use the memory of thy 
predecessor fairly and tenderly ; for if thou dost 
not, it is a debt will sure be paid when thou art 
gone. If thou have colleagues, respect them; 
and rather call them when they look not for it, 
than exclude them when they hare reason to look 
to be called. Be not too sensible or too remem- 
bering of thy place in conversation and private 
answers to suitors ; but let it rather be said, 
" When he sits in place he is another man." 



IT is a trivial grammar-school text, but yet worthy 
a wise man's consideration. Question was asked 
of Demosthenes what was the chief part of an ora- 
tor ? he answered, action : what next ? action: what 
next again ? action. He said it that knew it best 
and had by nature himself no advantage in that he 
commended. A strange thing, that that part of an 
orator which is but superficial, and rather the virtue 
of a player, should be placed so high above those 
other noble parts of invention, elocution, and the 
rest; nay almost alone, as if it were all in all. But 
the reason is plain. There is in human nature gene- 
rally more of the fool than of the wise ; and there- 
fore those faculties by which the foolish part of 
men's minds is taken, are most potent. Wonderful 
like is the case of boldness in civil business ; what 
first ? boldness : what second and third ? boldness : 
And yet boldness is a child of ignorance and base- 
ness, far inferior to other parts : but nevertheless, 
it doth fascinate, and bind hand and foot those that 
are either shallow in judgment or weak in courage, 
which are the greatest part : yea, and prevaileth 
with wise men at weak times : therefore we see it 
hath done wonders in popular states, but with se- 
nates and princes less ; and more, ever upon the 


first entrance of bold persons into action than soon 
after; for boldness is an ill keeper of promise. 
Surely as there are mountebanks for the natural body, 
so are there mountebanks for the politic body ; men 
that undertake great cures', and perhaps have been 
lucky in two or three experiments, but want the 
grounds of science, and therefore cannot hold out: 
nay, you shall see a bold fellow many times do 
Mahomet's miracle. Mahomet made the people 
believe that he would call a hill to him, and from 
the top of it offer up his prayers for the observers 
of his law. The people assembled: Mahomet called 
the hill to come to him again and again; and when 
the hill stood still, he was never a whit abashed, 
but said, " If the hill will not come to Mahomet, 
Mahomet will go to the hill." So these men, when 
they have promised great matters and failed most 
shamefully, yet (if they have the perfection of 
boldness) they will but slight it over, and make a 
turn, and no more ado. Certainly to men of great 
judgment, bold persons are a sport to behold; nay, 
and to the vulgar also boldness hath somewhat of 
the ridiculous ; for if absurdity be the subject of 
laughter, doubt you not but great boldness is seldom 
without some absurdity ; especially it is a sport to 
see when a bold fellow is out of countenance, for 
that puts his face into a most shrunken and wooden 
posture as needs it must; for in bashfulness the 
spirits do a little go and come ; but with bold men, 
upon like occasion, they stand at a stay ; like a stale 


at chess, where it is no mate, but yet the game can- 
not stir : but this last were fitter for a satire than 
for a serious observation. This is well to be weighed, 
that boldness is ever blind; for it seeth not dangers 
and inconveniences : therefore it is ill in counsel, 
good in execution ; so that the right use of bold 
persons is, that they never command in chief, but 
be seconds and under the direction of others ; for 
in counsel it is good to see dangers, and in execu- 
tion not to see them except they be very great. 


I TAKE goodness in this sense, the affecting of 
the weal of men, which is that the Grecians 
call Philanthropia ; and the word humanity (as it 
is used), is a little too light to express it. Good- 
ness I call the habit, and goodness of nature the 
inclination. This of all virtues and dignities of the 
mind, is the greatest, being the character of the 
Deity : and without it man is a busy, mischievous, 
wretched thing, no better than a kind of vermin. 
Goodness answers to the theological virtue charity, 
and admits no excess but error. The desire of 
power in excess caused the angels to fall ; the de- 
sire of knowledge in excess caused man to fall : but 
in charity there is no excess, neither can angel or 


man come in danger by it. The inclination to 
goodness is imprinted deeply in the nature of man ; 
insomuch, that if it issue not towards men, it will 
take unto other living creatures ; as it is seen in 
the Turks, a cruel people, who nevertheless are kind 
to beasts, and give alms to dogs and birds ; inso- 
much, as Busbechius reporteth, a Christian boy in 
Constantinople had like to have been stoned for 
gagging in a waggishness a long-billed fowl. Er- 
rors indeed, in this virtue, of goodness or charity, 
may be committed. The Italians have an ungra- 
cious proverb, "Tanto buon che val niente;" " So 
good, that he is good for nothing: " and one of the 
doctors of Italy, Nicholas Machiavel, had the con- 
fidence to put in writing, almost in plain terms, 
" That the Christian faith had given up good men 
in prey to those that are tyrannical and unjust ; " 
which he spake, because, indeed, there was never 
law or sect or opinion did so much magnify good- 
ness as the Christian religion doth : therefore, to 
avoid the scandal and the danger both, it is good 
to take knowledge of the errors of a habit so ex- 
cellent. Seek the good of other men, but be not 
in bondage to their faces or fancies ; for that is but 
facility or softness, which taketh an honest mind 
prisoner. Neither give thou JEsop's cock a gem, 
who would be better pleased and happier if he had 
had a barley-corn. The example of God teacheth 
the lesson truly ; " He sendeth his rain, and maketh 
his sun to shine upon the just and the unjust ;" 



but he doth not rain wealth, nor shine honour and 
virtues upon men equally : common benefits are to 
be communicate with all, but peculiar benefits with 
choice. And beware how in making the portraiture 
thou breakest the pattern : for divinity maketh the 
love of ourselves the pattern: the love of our neigh- 
bours but the portraiture : " Sell all thou hast and 
give it to the poor, and follow me:" but sell not 
all thou hast except thou come and follow me ; that 
is, except thou have a vocation wherein thou mayest 
do as much good with little means as with great ; 
for otherwise, in feeding the streams, thou driest 
the fountain. Neither is there only a habit of good- 
ness directed by right reason ; but there is in some 
men, even in nature, a disposition towards it; as, 
on the other side, there is a natural malignity : for 
there be that in their nature do not affect the good 
of others. The lighter sort of malignity turneth 
but to a crossness, or frowardness, or aptness to 
oppose, or difficileness, or the like ; but the deeper 
sort to envy, and mere mischief. Such men in 
other men's calamities, are, as it were, in season, 
and are ever on the loading part : not so good as 
the dogs that licked Lazarus' sores, but like flies 
that are still buzzing upon any thing that is raw ; 
misanthropi, that make it their practice to bring 
men to the bough, and yet have never a tree for 
the purpose in their gardens, as Timon had : such 
dispositions are the very errors of human nature, 
and yet they are the fittest timber to make great 


politics of; like to knee timber, that is good for 
ships that are ordained to be tossed, but not for 
building houses that shall stand firm. The parts 
and signs of goodness are many. If a man be gra- 
cious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a 
citizen of the world, and that his heart is no island 
cut off from other lands, but a continent that joins 
to them: if he be compassionate towards the afflic- 
tions of others, it shows that his heart is like the 
noble tree that is wounded itself when it gives the 
balm : if he easily pardons and remits offences, it 
shows that his mind is planted above injuries, so 
that he cannot be shot : if he be thankful for small 
benefits, it shows that he weighs men's minds, and 
not their trash : but, above all, if he have St. Paul's 
perfection, that he w T ould wish to be an anathema 
from Christ for the salvation of his brethren, it 
shows much of a divine nature, and a kind of con 
formity with Christ himself. 


WE will speak of nobility first as a portion of 
an estate, then as a condition of particular 
persons. A monarchy, where there is no nobility 
at all, is ever a pure and absolute tyranny, as that 
of the Turks ; for nobility attempers sovereignty, 
and draws the eyes of the people somewhat aside 


from the line royal : but for democracies they need 
it not ; and they are commonly more quiet and less 
subject to sedition, than where there are stirps of 
nobles ; for men's eyes are upon the business, and 
not upon the persons ; or if upon the persons,. it is 
for the business sake, as fittest, and not for flags 
and pedigree. We see the Switzers last well, not- 
withstanding their diversity of religion and of can- 
tons ; for utility is their bond, and not respects. 
The united provinces of the Low Countries in their 
government excel ; for where there is an equality 
the consultations are more indifferent, and the pay- 
ments and tributes more cheerful. A great and 
potent nobility addeth majesty to a monarch, but 
diminisheth power, and putteth life and spirit into 
the people, but presseth their fortune. It is well 
when nobles are not too great for sovereignty nor 
for justice ; and yet maintained in that height, as 
the insolency of inferiors may be broken upon them 
before it come on too fast upon the majesty of kings. 
A numerous nobility causeth poverty and inconve- 
nience in a state, for it is a surcharge of expense ; 
and besides, iC being of necessity that many of 
the nobility fall in time to be weak in fortune, it 
maketh a kind of disproportion between honour and 

As for nobility in particular persons, it is a re- 
verend thing to see an ancient castle or building 
not in decay, or to see a fair timber tree sound and 
perfect ; how much more to behold an ancient no- 


ble family, which hath stood against the waves and j 
weathers of time ? for new nobility is but the act 
of power, but ancient nobility is the act of time. \ 
Those that are first raised to nobility are commonly i 
more virtuous, but less innocent, than their de- 
scendants ; for there is rarely any rising but by a 
commixture of good and evil arts ; but it is reason 
the memory of their virtues remain to their poste- ; 
rity, and their faults die with themselves. Nobility i* 
of birth commonly abateth industry ; and he that 
is not industrious, envieth him that is ; besides, no- 
ble persons cannot go much higher ; and he that j 
standeth at a stay when others rise, can hardly 
avoid motions of envy. On the other side, nobility 
extinguisheth the passive envy from others towards 
them, because they are in possession of honour. 
Certainly, kings that have able men of their no- 
bility shall find ease in employing them, and a bet- 
ter slide into their business ; for people naturally 
bend to them as born in some sort to command. 


SHEPHERDS of people had need know the 
calendars of tempests in state, which are com- 
monly greatest when things grow to equality ; as 
natural tempests are greatest about the equinoctia ; 
and as there are certain hollow blasts of wind and 


secret swellings of seas before a tempest, so are 
there in states : 

— " Ille etiam cascos instare tumultus 

Saepe monet, fraudesque et operta tumescere bella." 

Libels and licentious discourses against the state, 
when they are frequent and open ; and in like sort 
false news often running up and down, to the dis- 
advantage of the state, and hastily embraced, are 
amongst the signs of troubles. Virgil, giving the 
pedigree of Fame, saith she was sister to the giants : 

" 111am Terra parens, ira irritata Deorum, 
Extremam (ut perhibent) Cceo Enceladoque sororem 

As if fames were the relics of seditions past ; but 
they are no less indeed the preludes of seditions to 
come. Howsoever he noteth it right, that sedi- 
tious tumults and seditious fames differ no more 
but as brother and sister, masculine and feminine ; 
especially if it come to that, that the best actions 
of a state, and the most plausible, and which ought 
to give greatest contentment, are taken in ill sense, 
and traduced : for that shews the envy great, as 
Tacitus saith, " conflata, magna invidia, seu bene, 
seu male, gesta premunt." Neither doth it follow, 
that because these fames are a sign of troubles, 
that the suppressing of them with too much severity 
should be a remedy of troubles; for the despising 
of them many times checks them best, and the 
i; going about to stop them doth but make a wonder 
A long lived. Also that kind of obedience, which 


Tacitus speaketh of, is to be held suspected : " Erant 
in officio, sed tamen qui mallent mandata imperan- 
tium interpretari, quam exequi;" disputing ex- 
cusing, cavilling upon mandates and directions, is 
a kind of shaking off the yoke, and assay of dis- 
obedience ; especially if in those disputings they 
which are for the direction speak fearfully and ten- 
derly, and those that are against it audaciously. 

Also, as Machiavel noteth well, when princes, 
that ought to be common parents, make themselves 
as a party, and lean to a side ; it is, as a boat that 
is overthrown by uneven weight on the one side : 
as was well seen in the time of Henry the Third 
of France ; for first himself entered league for the 
extirpation of the Protestants, and presently after 
the same league was turned upon himself: for 
when the authority of princes is made but an ac- 
cessary to a cause, and that there be other bands 
that tie faster than the band of sovereignty, kings 
begin to be put almost out of possession. 

Also, when discords, and quarrels, and factions, 
are carried openly and audaciously, it is a sign the 
reverence of government is lost ; for the motions 
of the greatest persons in a government ought to 
be as the motions of the planets under " primum 
mobile," (according to the old opinion,) which is, 
that every of them is carried swiftly by the highest 
motion, and softly in their own motion ; and, there- 
fore, when great ones in their own particular mo- 
tion move violently, and as Tacitus expresseth it 


well, " Liberius quam ut imperantium meminis- 
sent," it is a sign the orbs are out of frame : for 
reverence is that wherewith princes are girt from 
God, who threateneth the dissolving thereof; 
" solvam cingula regum." 

So when any of the four pillars of government 
are mainly shaken or weakened (which are reli- 
gion, justice, counsel, and treasure), men had need 
to pray for fair weather. But let us pass from this 
part of predictions (concerning which, neverthe- 
less, more light may be taken from that which 
followeth), and let us speak first of the materials of 
seditions, then of the motives of them, and thirdly 
of the remedies. 

Concerning the materials of seditions, it is a 
thing well to be considered ; for the surest way to 
prevent seditions (if the times do bear it), is to take 
away the matter of them ; for if there be fuel 
prepared, it is hard to tell whence the spark shall 
come that shall set it on fire. The matter of sedi- 
tions is of two kinds, much poverty and much dis- 
contentment. It is certain, so many overthrown 
estates, so many votes for troubles. Lucan noteth 
well the state of Rome before the civil war, 

" Hinc usura vorax, rapidumque in tempore fcenus, 
Hinc concussa fides, et nrultis utile bellum." 

This same " multis utile bellum, " is an assured 
and infallible sign of a state disposed to seditions 
and troubles ; and if this poverty and broken estate 



in the better sort be joined with a want and neces- 
sity in the mean people, the danger is imminent 
and great : for the rebellions of the belly are the 
worst. As for discontentments, they are in the 
politic body like to humours in the natural, which 
are apt to gather a preternatural heat and to in- 
flame ; and let no prince measure the danger of 
them by this, whether they be just or unjust : for 
that were to imagine people to be too reasonable, who 
do often spurn at their own good ; nor yet by this, 
whether the griefs whereupon they rise be in fact 
great or small ; for they are the most dangerous 
discontentments where the fear is greater than the 
feeling : " Dolendi modus, timendi non item :" be- 
sides, in great oppressions, the same things that 
provoke the patience, do withal mate the courage ; 
but in fears it is not so ; neither let any prince, or 
state, be secure concerning discontentments be- 
cause they have been often, or have been long, 
and yet no peril hath ensued: for as it is true that 
every vapour, or fame, doth not turn into a storm, 
so it is nevertheless true, that storms, though they 
blow over divers times, yet may fall at last ; and, 
as the Spanish proverb noteth well, " The cord 
breaketh at the last by the weakest pull." 

The causes and motives of seditions are, inno- 
vation in religion, taxes, alteration of laws and 
customs, breaking of privileges, general oppres- 
sion, advancement of unworthy persons, strangers, 
dearths, disbanded soldiers, factions grown despe- 


rate ; and whatsoever in offending people joineth 
and knitteth them in a common cause. 

For the remedies, there may be some general 
preservatives, whereof we will speak : as for the 
just cure it must answer to the particular disease ; 
and so be left to counsel rather than rule. 

The first remedy, or prevention, is to remove, 
by all means possible, that material cause of sedi- 
tion whereof we spake, which is, want and poverty 
in the estate ; to which purpose serveth the open- 
ing and well-balancing of trade ; the cherishing of 
manufactures ; the banishing of idleness ; the re- 
pressing of waste and excess, by sumptuary laws ; 
the improvement and husbanding of the soil ; the 
regulating of prices of things vendible ; the mo- 
derating of taxes and tributes, and the like. Gene- 
rally, it is to be foreseen that the population of a 
kingdom (especially if it be not mown down by 
wars,) do not exceed the stock of the kingdom which 
should maintain them : neither is the population 
to be reckoned only by number ; for a smaller 
number that spend more and earn less, do wear 
out an estate sooner than a greater number that 
live lower and gather more : therefore the multi- 
plying of nobility, and other degrees of quality, in 
an over proportion to the common people, doth 
speedily bring a state to necessity : and so doth 
likewise an overgrown clergy, for they bring no- 
thing to the stock ; and, in like manner, when more 
are bred scholars than preferments can take off. 


It is likewise to be remembered, that, forasmuch 
as the increase of any estate must be upon the 
foreigner (for whatsoever is somewhere gotten, is 
somewhere lost,) there be but three things which 
one nation selleth unto another; the commodity, 
as nature yieldeth it ; the manufacture ; and the 
vecture, or carriage ; so that, if these three wheels 
go, wealth w T ill flow as in a spring tide. And it 
cometh many times to pass, that " materiam su- 
perabit opus," that the work and carriage is more 
worth than the material, and enricheth a state 
more : as is notably seen in the Low Countrymen, 
who have the best mines above ground in the 

Above all things, good policy is to be used, that 
the treasure and monies in a state be not gathered 
into few hands ; for, otherwise, a state may have 
a great stock, and yet starve : and money is like 
muck, not good except it be spread. This is done 
chiefly by suppressing, or, at the least, keeping a 
strait hand upon the devouring trades of usury, 
engrossing, great pasturages, and the like. 

For removing discontentments, or, at least, the 
danger of them, there is in every state (as we 
know) two portions of subjects, the nobles and the 
commonality. When one of these is discontent, 
the danger is not great ; for common people are of 
slow motion, if they be not excited by the greater 
sort; and the greater sort are of small strength, 
except the multitude be apt and ready to move of 


themselves : then is the danger, when the greater 
sort do but wait for the troubling of the waters 
amongst the meaner, that then they may declare 
themselves. The poets feign that the rest of the 
gods would have bound Jupiter, which he hearing 
of, by the counsel of Pallas, sent for Briareus, with 
his hundred hands, to come in to his aid : an em- 
blem, no doubt, to show how safe it is for monarchs 
to make sure of the good- will of common people. 

To give moderate liberty for griefs and discon- 
tentments to evaporate (so it be without too great 
insolency or bravery,) is a safe way : for he that 
turneth the humours back, and maketh the wound 
bleed inwards, endangereth malign ulcers and per- 
nicious imposthumations. 

The part of Epimetheus might well become Pro- 
metheus, in the case of discontentments, for there 
is not a better provision against them. Epime- 
theus, when griefs and evils flew abroad, at last shut 
the lid, and kept hope in the bottom of the vessel. 
Certainly, the politic and artificial nourishing and 
entertaining of hopes, and carrying men from 
hopes to hopes, is one of the best antidotes against 
the poison of discontentments : and it is a certain 
sign of a wise government and proceeding, when 
it can hold men's hearts by hopes, when it cannot 
by satisfaction ; and when it can handle things in 
such manner as no evil shall appear so peremp- 
tory but that it hath some outlet of hope : which 
is the less hard to do ; because both particular per- 


sons and factions are apt enough to flatter them- 
selves, or at least to brave that, they believe not. 

Also the foresight and prevention, that there be 
no likely or fit head whereunto discontented per- 
sons may resort, and under whom they may join, 
is a known, but an excellent point of caution. I 
understand a fit head to be one that hath greatness 
and reputation, that hath confidence with the dis- 
contented party, and upon whom they turn their 
eyes, and that is thought discontented in his own 
particular : which kind of persons are either to be 
won and reconciled to the state, and that in a fast 
and true manner ; or to be fronted with some other 
of the same party that may oppose them, and so 
divide the reputation. Generally the dividing and 
breaking of all factions and combinations that are 
adverse to the state, and setting them at distance, 
or, at least, distrust amongst themselves, is not 
one of the worst remedies ; for it is a desperate 
case, if those that hold with the proceeding of the 
state be full of discord and faction, and those that 
are against it be entire and united. 

I have noted, that some witty and sharp speeches, 
which have fallen from princes, have given fire to 
seditions. Caesar did himself infinite hurt in that 
speech, " Sylla nescivit literas, non potuit dictare;" 
for it did utterly cut off that hope which men had 
entertained, that he would at one time or other 
give over his dictatorship. Galba undid himself 
by that speech, " legi a se militem, non emi ;" for 


it put the soldiers out of hope of the donative. 
Probus, likewise, by that speech, " si vixero non 
opus erit amplius Romano imperio militibus ;" a 
speech of great despair for the soldiers, and many 
the like. Surely princes had need in tender mat- 
ters and ticklish times, to beware what they say, 
especially in these short speeches, which fly abroad 
like darts, and are thought to be shot out of their 
secret intentions ; for as for large discourses, they 
are flat things, and not so much noted. 

Lastly, let princes, against all events, not be 
without some great person, one or rather more, of 
military valour, near unto them, for the repressing 
of seditions in their beginnings ; for without that, 
there useth to be more trepidation in court upon 
the first breaking out of troubles, than were fit ; 
and the state runneth the danger of that which 
Tacitus saith, " Atque is habitus animorum fuit, ut 
pessimum facinus auderent pauci, plures vellent, 
omnes paterentur :" but let such military persons 
be assured, and well reputed of, rather than fac- 
tious and popular ; holding also good correspon- 
dence with the other great men in the state, or 
else the remedy is worse than the disease. 



I HAD rather believe all the fables in the legend, 
and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, than that 
this universal frame is without a mind ; and, there- 
fore, God never wrought miracle to convince athe- 
ism, because his ordinary works convince it. It is 
true, that a little philosophy inclineth man's mind 
to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's 
minds about to religion ; for while the mind of man 
looketh upon second causes scattered, it may some- 
times rest in them, and go no further ; but when it 
beholdeth the chain of them confederate, and linked 
together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity : 
nay, even that school which is most accused of 
atheism doth most demonstrate religion : that is 
the school of Leucippus, and Democritus, and Epi- 
curus : for it is a thousand times more credible that 
four mutable elements, and one immutable fifth 
essence, duly and eternally placed, need no God, 
than that an army of infinite small portions, or 
seeds unplaced, should have produced this order 
and beauty without a divine marshal. The scrip- 
ture saith, "The fool hath said in his heart, there 
is no God ;" it is not said, "The fool hath thought 
in his heart ;" so as he rather saith it by rote to 
himself, as that he would have, than that he can 


thoroughly believe it, or be persuaded of it ; for 
none deny there is a God, but those for whom it 
maketh that there were no God. It appeareth in 
nothing more, that atheism is rather in the lip than 
in the heart of man, than by this, that atheists will 
ever be talking- of that their opinion, as if they 
fainted in it within themselves, and would be glad 
to be strengthened by the consent of others ; nay 
more, you shall have atheists strive to get disciples, 
as it fareth with other sects ; and, which is most of 
all, you shall have of them that will suffer for atheism, 
and not recant; whereas, if they did truly think 
that there were no such thing as God, why should 
they trouble themselves? Epicurus is charged, 
that he did but dissemble for his credit's sake, when 
he affirmed there were blessed natures, but such as 
enjoyed themselves without having respect to the 
government of the world ; wherein they say he did 
temporize, though in secret he thought there was 
no God : but certainly he is traduced, for his words 
are noble and divine : " Non Deos vulgi negare pro- 
fanum ; sed vulgi opiniones Diis applicare profa- 
num." Plato could have said no more ; and, al- 
though he had the confidence to deny the adminis- 
tration, he had not the power to deny the nature. 
The Indians of the west have names for their par- 
ticular gods, though they have no name for God : 
as if the heathens should have had the names Ju- 
piter, Apollo, Mars, &c. but not the word Deus, 
which shows that even those barbarous people have 


the notion, though they have not the latitude and 
extent of it ; so that against atheists the very sa- 
vages take part with the very subtlest philosophers. 
The contemplative atheist is rare, a Diagoras, a 
Bion, a Lucian perhaps, and some others; and yet 
they seem to be more than they are ; for that all 
that impugn a received religion, or superstition, 
are, by the adverse part, branded with the name of 
atheists : but the great atheists indeed are hypo- 
crites, which are ever handling holy things but 
without feeling ; so as they must needs be cau- 
terized in the end. The causes of atheism are, di- 
visions in religion, if they be many; for any one 
main division addeth zeal to both sides, but many 
divisions introduce atheism : another is, scandal of 
priests, when it is come to that which St. Bernard 
saith, "Non est jam dicere, ut populus, sic sacer- 
dos ; quia nee sic populus, ut sacerdos : " a third is, 
custom of profane scoffing in holy matters, which 
doth by little and little deface the reverence of re- 
ligion ; and, lastly, learned times, specially with 
peace and prosperity ; for troubles and adversities 
do more bow men's minds to religion. They that 
deny a God destroy man's nobility ; for certainly 
man is of kin to the beast by his body ; and, if he 
be not of kin to God by his spirit, he is a base and 
ignoble creature. It destroys likewise magnani- 
mity, and the raising of human nature ; for take 
an example of a dog, and mark what a generosity 
and courage he will put on when he finds himself 


maintained by a man, who to him is instead of a 
God, or " melior natura; " which courage is mani- 
festly such as that creature, without that confidence 
of a better nature than his own, could never attain. 
So man, when he resteth and assureth himself upon 
divine protection and favour, gathereth a force and 
faith, which human nature in itself could not ob- 
tain ; therefore, as atheism is in all respects hate- 
ful, so in this, that it depriveth human nature of 
the means to exalt itself above human frailty. As 
it is in particular persons, so it is in nations : never 
was there such a state for magnanimity as Rome ; 
of this state hear what Cicero saith, " Quam volu- 
mus, licet, Patres conscripti, nos amemus, tamen 
nee numero Hispanos, nee robore Gallos, nee calli- 
ditate Pcenos, nee artibusGraecos, nee denique hoc 
ipso hujus gentis et terrse domestico nativoque sensu 
Italos ipsos et Latinos ; sed pietate, ac religione, 
atque ac una sapientia, quod Deorum immortalium 
numine omnia regi, gubernarique perspeximus om- 
nes, gentes nationesque superavimus." 


IT were better to have no opinion of God at ahV 
than such an opinion as is unworthy of him ;) 
for the one is unbelief, the other is contumely : and 
certainly superstition is the reproach of the Deity. 


Plutarch saith well to that purpose : " Surely," 
saith he, " I had rather a great deal men should 
say there was no such man at all as Plutarch, than 
that they should say that there was one Plutarch, 
that would 'eat his children as soon as they were 
born;" as the poets speak of Saturn: and, as the 
contumely is greater towards God, so the danger 
is greater towards men. Atheism leaves a man to 
sense, to philosophy, to natural piety, to laws, to 
reputation : all which may be guides to an outward 
moral virtue, though religion were not; but super- 
stition dismounts all these, and erecteth an abso- 
lute monarchy in the minds of men : therefore 
atheism did never perturb states ; for it makes men 
wary of themselves, as looking no further, and we 
see the times inclined to atheism (as the time of 
Augustus Caesar) were civil times; but superstition 
hath been the confusion of many states, and bring- 
eth in a new "primum mobile, " that ravish eth all 
the spheres of government. The master of super- 
stition is the people, and in all superstition wise 
men follow fools : and arguments are fitted to prac- 
tice in a reversed order. It was gravely said, by 
some of the prelates in the council of Trent, where 
the doctrine of the schoolmen bare great sway, that 
the schoolmen were like astronomers, which did 
feign eccentrics and epicycles, and such engines 
of orbs to save the phenomena, though they knew 
there were no such things ; and, in like manner, 
that the schoolmen had framed a number of subtle 


and intricate axioms and theorems, to save the 
practice of the church. The causes of superstition 
are, pleasing and sensual rites and ceremonies; ex- 
cess of outward and pharisaical holiness ; over great 
reverence of traditions, which cannot but load the 
church ; the stratagems of prelates for their own 
ambition and lucre ; the favouring too much of 
good intentions, which openeth the gate to con- 
ceits and novelties ; the taking an aim at divine 
matters by human, which cannot but breed mix- 
ture of imaginations : and, lastly, barbarous times, 
especially joined with calamities and disasters. 
Superstition, without a veil, is a deformed thing; 
for as it addeth deformity to an ape to be so like a 
man, so the similitude of superstition to religion 
makes it the more deformed : and, as wholesome 
meat corrupteth to little worms, so good forms and 
orders corrupt into a number of petty observances. 
There is a superstition in avoiding superstition, 
when men think to do best if they go furthest from 
the superstition formerly received ; therefore care 
would be had that (as it fareth in ill purgings) the 
good be not taken away with the bad which com- 
monly is done when the people is the reformer. 



TRAVEL, in the younger sort, is a part of 
education ; in the elder, a part of experience. 
He that travelleth into a country, before he hath 
some entrance into the language, goeth to school, 
and not to travel. That young men travel under 
some tutor, or grave servant, I allow well ; so that 
he be such a one that hath the language, and 
hath been in the country before ; whereby he may 
be able to tell them what things are worthy to be 
seen in the country where they go, what acquaint- 
ances they are to seek, what exercises or discipline 
the place yieldeth ; for else young men shall go 
hooded, and look abroad little. It is a strange 
thing that, in sea voyages, where there is nothing 
to be seen but sky and sea, men should make 
diaries ; but in land travel, wherein so much is to 
be observed, for the most part they omit it ; as if 
chance were fitter to be registered than observa- 
tion : let diaries, therefore, be brought in use. 
The things to be seen and observed are, the courts 
of princes, especially when they give audience to 
ambassadors; the courts of justice, while they sit 
and hear causes ; and so of consistories ecclesias- 
tic ; the churches and monasteries, with the mo- 
numents which are therein extant ; the walls and 


fortifications of cities and towns ; and so the havens 
and harbours, antiquities and ruins, libraries, col- 
leges, disputations, and lectures, where any are ; 
shipping and navies ; houses and gardens of state 
and pleasure, near great cities ; armories, arsenals, 
magazines, exchanges, burses, warehouses, exer- 
cises of horsemanship, fencing, training of soldiers, 
and the like : comedies, such whereunto the better 
sort of persons do resort ; treasuries of jewels and 
robes; cabinets and rarities; and, to conclude, 
whatsoever, is memorable in the places where they 
go : after all which the tutors or servants ought 
to make diligent inquiry. As for triumphs, masks; 
feasts, weddings, funerals, capital executions, and 
such shows, men need not to be put in mind of them : 
yet are they not to be neglected. If you will have 
a young man to put his travel into a little room, 
and in short time to gather much, this you must 
do : first, as was said, he must have some entrance 
into the language before he goeth ; then he must 
have such a servant, or tutor, as knoweth the 
country, as was likewise said : let him carry with 
him also some card, or book, describing the coun- 
try where he travelleth, which will be a good key 
to his inquiry ; let him keep also a diary ; let him 
not stay long in one city or town, more or less as 
the place deserveth, but not long; nay, when he 
stayeth in one city or town, let him change his 
lodging from one end and part of the town to ano- 
ther, which is a great adamant of acquaintance ; 


let him sequester himself from the company of his 
countrymen, and diet in such places where there 
is good company of the nation where he travelleth : 
let him, upon his removes from one place to ano- 
ther, procure recommendation to some person of 
quality residing in the place whither he remove th, 
that he may use his favour in those things he de- 
sireth to see or know : thus he may abridge his 
travel with much profit. As for the acquaintance 
which is to be sought in travel, that which is most 
of all profitable, is acquaintance with the secre- 
taries and employed men of ambassadors ; for so 
in travelling in one country he shall suck the ex- 
perience of many : let him also see and visit emi- 
nent persons in all kinds, which are of great name 
abroad, that he may be able to tell how the life 
agreeth with the fame ; For quarrels, they are 
with care and discretion to be avoided ; they are 
commonly for mistresses, healths, place, and words ; 
and let a man beware how he keepeth company 
with choleric and quarrelsome persons, for they 
will engage him into their own quarrels. When 
a traveller returneth home, let him not leave the 
countries where he hath travelled altogether be- 
hind him ; but maintain a correspondence by let- 
ters with those of his acquaintance which are of 
most worth ; and let his travel appear rather in 
his discourse than in his apparel or gesture ; and 
in his discourse let him be rather advised in his 
answers, than forward to tell stories : and let it 


appear that he doth not change his country man- 
ners for those of foreign parts ; but only prick in 
some flowers of that he hath learned abroad into 
the customs of his own country. 


IT is a miserable state of mind to have few things 
to desire, and many thiugs to fear ; and yet 
that commonly is the case of kings, who being at 
the highest, want matter of desire, which makes 
their minds more languishing ; and have many re- 
presentations of perils and shadows, which makes 
their minds the less clear : and this is one reason 
also of that effect which the scripture speaketh of, 
" That the king's heart is inscrutable :" for mul- 
titude of jealousies, and lack of some predominant 
desire, that should marshal and put in order all 
the rest, maketh any man's heart hard to find 
or sound. Hence it comes likewise, that princes 
many times make themselves desires, and set their 
hearts upon toys ; sometimes upon a building ; 
sometimes upon erecting of an order ; sometimes 
upon the advancing of a person ; sometimes upon 
obtaining excellency in some art, or feat of the 
hand : as Nero for playing on the harp ; Domi- 
tian for certainty of the hand with the arrow ; 
Commodus for playing at fence ; Caracalla for 



driving chariots, and the like. This seemeth in- 
credible unto those that know not the principle, 
that the mind of man is more cheered and refreshed 
by profiting in small things, than by standing at a 
stay in great. We see also that kings that have 
been fortunate conquerors in their first years, it 
being not possible for them to go forward infinitely, 
but that they must have some check or arrest in 
their fortunes, turn in their latter years to be su- 
perstitious and melancholy; as did Alexander the 
Great, Dioclesian, and in our memory Charles the 
Fifth, and others : for he that is used to go for- 
ward, and findeth a stop, falleth out of his own 
favour, and is not the thing he was. 

To speak now of the true temper of empire, it is 
a thing rare and hard to keep; for both temper 
and distemper consist of contraries : but it is one 
thing to mingle contraries, another to interchange 
them. The answer of Apollonius to Vespasian is 
full of excellent instruction. Vespasian asked him, 
what was Nero's overthrow ? he answered, Nero 
could touch and tune the harp well, but in govern- 
ment sometimes he used to wind the pins too high, 
sometimes to let them down too low ; and certain 
it is, that nothing destroyeth authority so much as 
the unequal and untimely interchange of power 
pressed too far, and relaxed too much. 

This is true, that the wisdom of all these latter 
times in princes' affairs, is rather fine deliveries, 
and shiftings of dangers and mischiefs, when they 


are near, than solid and grounded courses to keep 
them aloof: but this is but to try masteries with 
fortune; and let men beware how they neglect and 
suffer matter of trouble to be prepared ; for no 
man can forbid the spark, nor tell whence it may 
come. The difficulties in princes' business are 
many and great ; but the greatest difficulty is often 
in their own mind ; for it is common with princes 
(saith Tacitus) to will contradictories ; " Sunt 
plerumque regum voluntates vehementes, et inter 
se contrarise ; " for it is the solecism of power to 
think to command the end, and yet not to endure 
the mean. 

Kings have to deal with their neighbours, their 
wives, their children, their prelates or clergy, their 
nobles, their second nobles or gentlemen, their 
merchants, their commons, and their men of war ; 
and from all these arise dangers, if care and cir- 
cumspection be not used. 

First, for their neighbours, there can no general 
rule be given (the occasions are so variable,) save 
one which ever holdeth ; which is, that princes do 
keep due sentinel, that none of their neighbours do 
overgrow so, (by increase of territory, by embracing 
of trade, by approaches, or the like,) as they be- 
come more able to annoy them than they were ; and 
this is generally the work of standing counsels to 
foresee and to hinder it. During that triumvirate 
of kings, king Henry the Eighth of England, 
Francis the First, king of France, and Charles the 


Fifth emperor, there was such a watch kept that 
none of the three could win a palm of ground, but 
the other two would straightways balance it, either 
by confederation, or, if need were, by a war ; and 
would not in any wise take up peace at interest : 
and the like was done by that league (which Guic- 
ciardini saith was the security of Italy,) made be- 
tween Ferdinando, king of Naples, Lorenzius Me- 
dicis, and Ludovicus Sforsa, potentates, the one of 
Florence, the other of Milan. Neither is the opi- 
nion of some of the schoolmen to be received, that 
a war cannot justly be made, but upon a precedent 
injury or provocation ; for there is no question, but 
a just fear of an imminent danger though there be 
no blow given, is a lawful cause of a war. 

For their wives, there are cruel examples of them. 
Livia is infamed for the poisoning of her husband ; 
Roxalana, Soly man's wife, was the destruction of 
that renowned prince, Sultan Mustapha, and other- 
wise troubled his house and succession ; Edward 
the Second of England's queen had the principal 
hand in the deposing and murder of her husband. 
This kind of danger is then to be feared chiefly 
when the wives have plots for the raising of their 
own children, or else that they be advoutresses. 

For their children, the tragedies likewise of dan- 
gers from them have been many ; and generally 
the entering of fathers into suspicion of their chil- 
dren hath been ever unfortunate. The destruction 


of Mustapha (that we named before) was so fatal 
to Solyman's line, as the succession of the Turks 
from Solyman until this day is suspected to be un- 
true, and of strange blood ; for that Selymus the 
Second was thought to be supposititious. The de- 
struction of Crispus, a young prince of rare to- 
wardness, by Constantinus the Great, his father, 
was in like manner fatal to his house, for both 
Constantinus and Constance, his sons, died violent 
deaths ; and Constantius, his other son, did little 
better, who died indeed of sickness, but after that 
Julianus had taken arms against him. The de- 
struction of Demetrius, son to Philip the Second 
of Macedon, turned upon the father, who died of 
repentance : and many like examples there are, 
but few or none where the fathers had good by 
such distrust, except it were where the sons were 
up in open arms against them ; as was Selymus 
the First against Bajazet, and the three sons of 
Henry the Second, king of England. 

For their prelates, when they are proud and 
great, there is also danger from them ; as it was 
in^the times of Anselmus and Thomas Becket, 
archbishops of Canterbury, who with their crosiers 
did almost try it with the king's sword ; and yet 
they had to deal with stout and haughty kings, 
William Rufus, Henry the First, and Henry the 
Second. The danger is not from that state, but 
where it hath a dependence of foreign authority ; 


or where the churchmen come in and are elected, 
not by the collation of the king, or particular pa- 
trons, but by the people. 

For their nobles, to keep them at a distance it is 
not amiss ; but to depress them may make a king 1 
more absolute, but less safe, and less able to per- 
form any thing that he desires. I have noted it in 
my History of king Henry the Seventh of England, 
who depressed his nobility, whereupon it came to 
pass that his times were full of difficulties and 
troubles ; for the nobility, though they continued 
loyal unto him, yet did they not co-operate with 
him in his business ; so that in effect he was fain 
to do all things himself. 

For their second nobles, there is not much dan- 
ger from them, being a body dispersed : they may 
sometimes discourse high, but that doth little hurt: 
besides, they are a counterpoise to the higher no- 
bility, that they grow not too potent; and, lastly, 
being the most immediate in authority with the 
common people, they do best temper popular com- 

For their merchants, they are " vena porta ;" 
and if they flourish not, a kingdom may have good 
limbs, but will have empty veins, and nourish little. 
Taxes and imposts upon them do seldom good to 
the king's revenue, for that which he wins in the 
hundred, he loseth in the shire ; the particular 
rates being increased, but the total bulk of trading 
rather decreased. 


For their commons, there is little danger from 
them, except it be where they have great and po- 
tent heads ; or where you meddle with the point 
of religion, or their customs, or means of life. 

For their men of war, it is a dangerous state 
where they live and remain in a body, and are 
used to donatives, whereof we see examples in the 
janizaries and pretorian bands of Rome; but train- 
ings of men, and arming them in several places, 
and under several commanders, and without dona- 
tives, are things of defence, and no danger. 

Princes are like to heavenly bodies, which cause 
good or evil times ; and which have much venera- 
tion, but no rest. All precepts concerning kings 
are in effect comprehended in these two remem- 
brances, " memento quod es homo ;" and " memen- 
to quod es Deus," or " vice Dei;" the one bridleth 
their power, and the other their will. 


THE greatest trust between man and man is [ 
the trust of giving counsel ; for in other con- 
fidences men commit the parts of life, their lands, 
their goods, their children, their credit, some par- 
ticular affair; but to such as they make their coun- 
sellors they commit the whole : by how much the 
more they are obliged to all faith and integrity. 


The wisest princes need not think it any diminution 
to their greatness, or derogation to their sufficiency, 
to rely upon counsel. God himself is not without, 
but hath made it one of the great names of his 
blessed Son, "The Counsellor." Solomon hath 
pronounced that, " in counsel is stability." Things 
will have^heir first or second agitation : if they be 
not tossed upon the arguments of counsel, they will 
be tossed upon the waves of fortune ; and be full 
of inconstancy, doing and undoing, like the reeling 
of a drunken man. Solomon's son found the force 
of counsel, as his father saw the necessity of it : 
for the beloved kingdom of God was first rent and 
broken by ill counsel ; upon which counsel there 
are set for our instruction the two marks whereby 
bad counsel is for ever best discerned, that it was 
young counsel for the persons, and violent counsel 
for the matter. 

The ancient times do set forth in figure both 
the incorporation and inseparable conjunction of 
counsel with kings, and the wise and politic use 
of counsel by kings : the one, in that they say 
Jupiter did marry Metis, which signifieth counsel ; 
whereby they intend that sovereignty is married 
to counsel ; the other in that which folio we th, 
which was thus : they say, after Jupiter was mar- 
ried to Metis, she conceived by him and was with 
child, but Jupiter suffered her not to stay till she 
brought forth, but eat her up; whereby he be- 


came himself with child, and was delivered of 
Pallas Armed, out of his head. Which monstrous 
fable containeth a secret of empire, how kings 
are to make use of their counsel of state : that 
first, they ought to refer matters unto them, which 
is the first begetting or impregnation ; but when 
they are elaborate, moulded, and shaped in the 
womb of their council, and grow ripe and ready 
to be brought forth, that then they suffer not their 
council to go through with the resolution and 
direction, as if it' depended on them; but take 
the matter back into their own hands, and make 
it appear to the world, that the decrees and 
final directions (which, because they come forth 
with prudence and power, are resembled to Pallas 
Armed,) proceeded from themselves ; and not only 
from their authority, but (the more to add reputa- 
tion to themselves) from their head and device. 

Let us now speak of the inconveniences of coun- 
sel, and of the remedies. The inconveniences that 
have been noted in calling and using counsel, are 
three : first, the revealing of affairs, whereby they 
become less secret; secondly, the weakening of 
the authority of princes, as if they were less of 
themselves ; thirdly, the danger of being unfaith- 
fully counselled, and more for the good of them 
that counsel, than of him that is counselled ; for 
which inconveniences, the doctrine of Italy, and 
practice of France, in some kings' times, hath in- 



troduced cabinet councils ; a remedy worse than 
the disease. 

As to secrecy, princes are not bound to com- 
municate all matters with all counsellors, but may 
extract and select ; neither is it necessary, that 
he that consulteth what he should do, should de- 
clare what he will do ; but let princes beware 
that the unsecreting of their affairs comes not 
from themselves : and, as for cabinet councils, it 
may be their motto, " plenus rimarum sum :" one 
futile person, that maketh it his glory to tell, will 
do more hurt than many, that know it their duty 
to conceal. It is true there be some affairs which 
require extreme secrecy, which will hardly go be- 
yond one or two persons besides the king : neither 
are those counsels unprosperous ; for, besides the 
secrecy, they commonly go on constantly in one 
spirit of direction without distraction : but then it 
must be a prudent king, such as is able to grind 
with a hand-mill; and those inward counsellors 
had need also be wise men, and especially true 
and trusty to the king's ends ; as it was with 
king Henry the Seventh of England, who in his 
greatest business imparted himself to none, except 
it were to Morton and Fox. 

For weakening of authority the fable showeth 
the remedy : nay, the majesty of kings is rather 
exalted than diminished when they are in the chair 
of council ; neither was there ever prince bereaved 
of his dependencies by his council, except where 


there hath been either an over-greatness in one 
counsellor, or an over-strict combination in divers, 
which are things soon found and holpen. 

For the last inconvenience, that men will counsel 
with an eye to themselves ; certainly, " non inve- 
niet fidem super terrain," is meant of the nature 
of times, and not of all particular persons. There 
be that are in nature faithful and sincere, and plain 
and direct, not crafty and involved : let princes, 
above all, draw to themselves such natures. Be- 
sides, counsellors are not commonly so united, but 
that one counsellor keepeth sentinel over another; 
so that if any do counsel out of faction or private 
ends, it commonly comes to the king's ear : but 
the best remedy is, if princes know their counsellors, 
as well as their counsellors know them : 

" Principis est virtus maxima nosse suos." 

And on the other side, counsellors should not be 
too speculative into their sovereign's person. The 
true composition of a counsellor is, rather to be 
skilful in their master's business than in his nature ; 
for then he is like to advise him, and not to feed 
his humour. It is of singular use to princes if they 
take the opinions of their council both separately 
and together; for private opinion is more free, but 
opinion before others is more reverend. In private, 
men are more bold in their own humours ; and in 
consort, men are more obnoxious to others' humours, 
therefore it is good to take both ; and of the infe- 


rior sort rather in private, to preserve freedom ; of 
the greater, rather in consort, to preserve respect. 
It is in vain for princes to take counsel concerning 
matters, if they take no counsel likewise concern- 
ing persons ; for all matters are as dead images ; 
and the life of the execution of affairs resteth in 
the good choice of persons : neither is it enough to 
consult concerning persons, " secundum genera, " 
as in an idea or mathematical description, what the 
kind and character of the person should be ; for 
the greatest errors are committed, and the most 
judgment is shown, in the choice of individuals. 
It was truly said, " Optimi consiliarii mortui: " 
" books will speak plain when counsellors blanch ; " 
therefore it is good to be conversant in them, spe- 
cially the books of such as themselves have been 
actors upon the stage. 

The councils at this day in most places are but 
familiar meetings, where matters are rather talked 
on than debated ; and they run too swift to the 
order or act of council. It were better that in 
causes of weight the matter were propounded one 
day and not spoken to till the next day; " in nocte 
consilium : " so was it done in the commission of 
union between England and Scotland, which was 
a grave and orderly assembly. I commend set days 
for petitions ; for both it gives the suitors more 
certainty for their attendance, and it frees the 
meetings for matters of estate, that they may " hoc 
agere." In choice of committees for ripening bu- 


siness for the council, it is better to choose indif- 
ferent persons, than to make an indifferency by 
putting in those that are strong on both sides. I 
commend, also, standing commissions ; as for trade, 
for treasure, for war, for suits, for some provinces ; 
for where there be divers particular councils, and 
but one council of estate, (as it is in Spain) they 
are, in effect, no more than standing commissions, 
save that they have greater authority. Let such 
as are to inform councils out of their particular 
professions, (as lawyers, seamen, mintmen, and the 
like,) be first heard before committees ; and then, 
as occasion serves, before the council; and let them 
not come in multitudes, or in a tribunitious man- 
ner ; for that is to clamour councils, not to inform 
them. A long table and a square table, or seats 
about the walls, seem things of form, but are things 
of substance ; for at a long table a few at the up- 
per end, in effect, sway all the business; but in the 
other form there is more use of the counsellors' 
opinions that sit lower. A king, when he presides 
in council, let him beware how he opens his own 
inclination too much in that which he propoundeth ; 
for else counsellors will but take the wind of him, 
and instead of giving free counsel, will sing him a 
song of " placebo. " 




FORTUNE is like the market, where many 
times, if you can stay a little, the price will 
fall ; and again, it is sometimes like Sibylla's offer, 
which at first offereth the commodity at full, then 
consumeth part and part, and still holdeth up the 
price ; for occasion (as it is in the common verse) 
turneth a bald noddle after she hath presented her 
locks in front, and no hold taken; or, at least, 
turneth the handle of the bottle first to be received, 
and after the belly, which is hard to clasp. There 
is surely no greater wisdom than well to time the 
beginnings and onsets of things. Dangers are no 
more light, if they once seem light ; and more dan- 
gers have deceived men than forced them: nay, it 
were better to meet some dangers half way, though 
they come nothing near, than to keep too long a 
watch upon their approaches ; for if a man watch 
too long, it is odds he will fall asleep. On the 
other side, to be deceived with too long shadows, 
(as some have been when the moon was low and 
shone on their enemies' back) and so to shoot off 
before the time ; or to teach dangers to come on 
by over early buckling towards them, is another 
extreme. The ripeness or unripeness of the occa- 
sion, (as we said) must ever be well weighed; and 


generally it is good to commit the beginnings of 
all great actions to Argus with his hundred eyes, 
and the ends to Briareus with his hundred hands ; 
first to watch, and then to speed ; for the helmet 
of Pluto, which maketh the politic man go invisi- 
ble, is secrecy in the council, and celerity in the 
execution ; for when things are once come to the 
execution, there is no secrecy comparable to cele- 
rity ; like the motion of a bullet in the air, which 
ilieth so swift as it outruns the eye. 


WE take cunning for a sinister, or crooked 
wisdom; and certainly there is great dif- 
ference between a cunning man and wise man, 
not only in point of honesty, but in point of ability. 
There be that can pack the cards, and yet cannot 
play well ; so there are some that are good in can- 
vasses and factions, that are otherwise weak men. 
Again, it is one thing to understand persons, and 
another thing to understand matters ; for many are 
perfect in men's humours, that are not greatly 
capable of the real part of business, which is the 
constitution of one that hath studied men more than 
books. Such men are fitter for practice than for 
counsel, and they are good but in their own alley : 
turn them to new men, and they have lost their 


aim ; so as the old rule, to know a fool from a wise 
man, " Mitte ambos nudos ad ignotos, et videbis," 
doth scarce hold for them; and, because these cun- 
ning men are like haberdashers of small wares, it 
is not amiss to set forth their shop. 

It is a point of cunning to wait upon him with 
whom you speak with your eye, as the Jesuits give 
it in precept; for there be many wise men that 
have secret hearts and transparent countenances : 
yet this would be done with a demure abasing of 
your eye sometimes, as the Jesuits also do use. 

Another is, that when you have any thing to ob- 
tain of present dispatch, you entertain and amuse 
the party with whom you deal with some other dis- 
course, that he be not too much awake to make 
objections. I knew a counsellor and secretary, 
that never came to queen Elizabeth of England 
with bills to sign, but he would always first put her 
into some discourse of estate, that she might the 
less mind the bills. 

The like surprise may be made by moving things 
when the party is in haste, and cannot stay to con- 
sider advisedly of that is moved. 

If a man would cross a business that he doubts 
some other would handsomely and effectually move, 
let him pretend to wish it well, and move it him- 
self, in such sort as may foil it. 

The breaking off in the midst of that, one was 
about to say, as if he took himself up, breeds a 


greater appetite in him, with whom you confer, to 
know more. 

And because it works better when any thing 
seemeth to be gotten from you by question, than if 
you offer it of yourself, you may lay a bait for a 
question, by showing another visage and counte- 
nance than you are wont ; to the end, to give oc- 
casion for the party to ask what the matter is of 
the change, as Nehemiah did, " And I had not be- 
fore that time been sad before the king." 

In things that are tender and unpleasing-, it is 
good to break the ice by some whose words are of 
less weight, and to reserve the more weighty voice 
to come in as by chance, so that he may be asked 
the question upon the other's speech ; as Narcissus 
did, in relating to Claudius the marriage of Messa- 
lina and Silius. 

In things that a man would not be seen in him- 
self, it is a point of cunning to borrow the name 
of the world; as to say, "The world says/' or 
" There is a speech abroad." 

I knew one that, when he wrote a letter, he would 
put that which was most material in the postscript, 
as if it had been a bye matter. 

I knew another that, when he came to have 
speech, he would pass over that that he intended 
most : and go forth and come back again, and speak 
of it as of a thing that he had almost forgot. 

Some procure themselves to be surprised at such 



times as it is like the party that they work upon, 
will suddenly come upon them, and to be found 
with a letter in their hand, or doing somewhat which 
they are not accustomed, to the end they may be 
apposed of those things which of themselves they 
are desirous to utter. 

It is a point of cunning, to let fall those words 
in a man's own name which he would have another 
man learn and use, and thereupon take advantage. 
I knew two that were competitors for the secretary's 
place, in queen Elizabeth's time, and yet kept good 
quarter between themselves, and would confer one 
with another upon the business ; and the one of 
them said, that to be a secretary in the declination 
of a monarchy was a ticklish thing, and that he did 
not affect it : the other straight caught up those 
w r ords, and discoursed with divers of his friends, 
that he had no reason to desire to be secretary in 
the declination of a monarchy. The first man took 
hold of it, and found means it was told the queen ; 
who hearing of a declination of a monarchy, took 
it so ill, as she would never after hear of the other's 

There is a cunning, which we in England call 
" The turning of the cat in the pan;" which is, 
when that which a man says to another, he lays it 
as if another had said it to him; and, to say truth, 
it is not easy, when such a matter passed between 
two, to make it appear from which of them it first 
moved and began. 


It is a way that some men have, to glance and 
dart at others by justifying* themselves by nega- 
tives; as to say, "This I do not;" as Tigellinus 
did towards Burrhus, " Se non diversas spes, sed 
incolumitatem imperatoris simpliciter spectare." 

Some have in readiness so many tales and sto- 
ries, as there is nothing they would insinuate, but 
they can wrap it into a tale ; which serveth both to 
keep themselves more in guard, and to make others 
carry it with more pleasure. 

It is a good point of cunning for a man to shape 
the answer he would have in his own words and 
propositions ; for it makes the other party stick the 

It is strange how long some men will lie in wait 
to speak somewhat they desire to say ; and how 
far about they will fetch, and how many other mat- 
ters they will beat over to come near it : it is a 
thing of great patience, but yet of much use. 

A sudden, bold, and unexpected question doth 
many times surprise a man, and lay him open. 
Like to him, that, having changed his name, and 
walking in Paul's, another suddenly came behind 
him and called him by his true name, whereat 
straightway s he looked back. 

But these small wares and petty points of cun- 
ning are infinite, and it were a good deed to make 
a list of them ; for that nothing doth more hurt in 
a state than that cunning men pass for wise. 

But certainly some there are that know the re- 


sorts and falls of business, that cannot sink into 
the main of it ; like a house that hath convenient 
stairs and entries, but never a fair room : there- 
fore you shall see them find out pretty looses in the 
conclusion, but are noways able to examine or de- 
bate matters : and yet commonly they take advan- 
tage of their inability, and would be thought wits 
of direction. Some build rather upon the abusing* 
of others, and (as we now say) putting tricks upon 
them, than upon soundness of their own proceed- 
ings : but Solomon saith, " Prudens advertit ad 
sressus suos : stultus divertit ad dolos." 


AN ant is a wise creature for itself, but it is a 
shrewd thing in an orchard or garden ; and 
certainly men that are great lovers of themselves 
waste the public. Divide with reason between self- 
love and society ; and be so true to thyself, as thou 
be not false to others, especially to thy king and 
country. It is a poor centre of a man's actions, 
himself. It is right earth ; for that only stands 
fast upon his own centre ; whereas all things that 
have affinity with the heavens, move upon the cen- 
tre of another, which they benefit. The referring 
of all to a man's self, is more tolerable in a sove- 
reign prince, because themselves are not only them- 


selves, but their good and evil is at the peril of the 
public fortune : but it is a desperate evil in a ser- 
vant to a prince, or a citizen in a republic ; for 
whatsoever affairs pass such a man's hands, he 
crooketh them to his own ends, which must needs 
be often eccentric, to the ends of his master or 
state: therefore let princes, or states, choose such 
servants as have not this mark ; except they mean 
their service should be made but the accessary. 
That which maketh the effect more pernicious is, 
that all proportion is lost; it were disproportion 
enough for the servant's good to be preferred be- 
fore the master's ; but yet it is a greater extreme, 
when a little good of the servant shall cany things 
against a great good of the master's : and yet that 
is the case of bad officers, treasurers, ambassadors, 
generals, and other false and corrupt servants ; 
which set a bias upon their bowl, of their own 
petty ends and envies, to the overthrow of their 
master's great and important affairs : and, for the 
most part, the good such servants receive is after 
the model of their own fortune ; but the hurt they 
sell for that good is after the model of their mas- 
ter's fortune : and certainly it is the nature of ex- 
treme self-lovers, as they will set a house on fire, 
and it were but to roast their eggs ; and yet these 
men many times hold credit with their masters, be- 
cause their study is but to please them, and profit 
themselves; and for either respect they will aban- 
don the orood of their affairs. 


Wisdom for a man's self is, in many branches 
thereof, a depraved thing: it is the wisdom of rats, 
that will be sure to leave a house somewhat before 
it fall : it is the wisdom of the fox, that thrusts out 
the badger, who digged and made room for him : 
it is the wisdom of crocodiles, that shed tears when 
they would devour. But that which is specially to 
be noted is, that those which (as Cicero says of 
Pompey) are, "sui amantes, sine rivali," are many 
times unfortunate ; and whereas they have all their 
times sacrificed to themselves, they become in the 
end themselves sacrifices to the inconstancy of for- 
tune, whose wings they thought by their self- wis- 
dom to have pinioned. 


AS the births of living creatures at first are 
ill-shapen, so are all innovations, which are 
the births of time ; yet notwithstanding, as those 
that first bring honour into their family are com- 
monly more worthy than most that succeed, so the 
first precedent (if it be good) is seldom attained by 
imitation ; for ill to man's nature as it stands per- 
verted, hath a natural motion strongest in continu- 
ance ; but good, as a forced motion, strongest at 
first. Surely every medicine is an innovation, and 
he that will not apply new remedies must expect 


new evils ; for time is the greatest innovator ; and 
if time of course alter things to the worse, and 
wisdom and counsel shall not aiter them to the 
better, what shall be the end ? It is true, that what 
is settled by custom, though it be not good, yet at 
least it is fit ; and those things which have long 
gone together, are, as it were, confederate within 
themselves ; whereas new things piece not so well ; 
but, though they help by their utility, yet they 
trouble by their inconformity : besides, they are 
like strangers, more admired, and less favoured. 
All this is true, if time stood still; which, contra- 
riwise, moveth so round, that a froward retention 
of custom is as turbulent a thing as an innovation ; 
and they that reverence too much old times, are 
but a scorn to the new. It were good, therefore, 
that men in their innovations would follow the 
example of time itself, which indeed innovateth 
greatly, but quietly, and by degrees scarce to be 
perceived ; for otherwise, whatsoever is new is 
unlooked for ; and ever it mends some, and pairs 
other ; and he that is holpen takes it for a fortune, 
and thanks the time ; and he that is hurt for a 
wrong, and imputeth it to the author. It is good 
also not to try experiments in states, except the 
necessity be urgent, or the utility evident ; and well 
to beware that it be the reformation that draweth 
on the change, and not the desire of change that 
pretendeth the reformation; and lastly, that the 
novelty, though it be not rejected, yet be held for a 


suspect; and, as the Scripture saith, " That we 
make a stand upon the ancient way, and then look 
about us, and discover what is the straight and 
right way, and so to walk in it." 


AFFECTED dispatch is one of the most dan- 
gerous things to business that can be : It is 
like that which the physicians call predigestion, or. 
hasty digestion ; which is sure to fill the body full 
of crudities, and secret seeds of diseases : therefore 
measure not dispatch by the times of sitting, but 
by the advancement of the business : and as, in 
races, it is not the large stride, or high lift, that 
makes the speed ; so, in business, the keeping close 
to the matter, and not taking of it too much at 
once, procureth dispatch. It is the care of some 
only to come off speedily for the time, or to con- 
trive some false periods of business, because they 
may seem men of dispatch : but it is one thing to 
abbreviate by contracting, another by cutting off; 
and business so handled at several sittings, or meet- 
ings, goeth commonly backward and forward in an 
unsteady manner. I knew a wise man, that had 
it for a by-word, when he saw men hasten to a 
conclusion, " Stay a little, that we may make an 
end the sooner." 


On the other side, true dispatch is a rich thing; 
for time is the measure of business, as money is of 
wares ; and business is bought at a dear hand where 
there is small dispatch. The Spartans and Spaniards 
have been noted to be of small dispatch: "Mi 
venga la muerte de Spagna;" — "Let my death 
come from Spain," for then it will be sure to be 
long in coming. 

Give good hearing to those that give the first 
information in business, and rather direct them in 
the beginning, than interrupt them in the con- 
tinuance of their speeches ; for he that is put out 
of his own order will go forward and backward, 
and be more tedious while he waits upon his me- 
mory, than he could have been if he had gone 
on in his own course; but sometimes it is seen 
that the moderator is more troublesome than the 

Iterations are commonly loss of time ; but there 
is no such gain of time as to iterate often the state 
of the question ; for it chaseth away many a fri- 
volous speech as it is coming forth. Long and 
curious speeches are as fit for dispatch, as a robe, 
or mantle, with a long train, is for race. Prefaces, 
and passages, and excusations, and other speeches 
of reference to the person, are great wastes of time ; 
and though they seem to proceed of modesty, they 
are bravery. Yet beware of being too material 
when there is any impediment, or obstruction in 
men's wills ; for pre-occupation of mind ever re- 


quireth preface of speech, like a fomentation to 
make the unguent enter. 

Above all things, order, and distribution, and 
singling out of parts, is the life of dispatch ; so as 
the distribution be not too subtile : for he that doth 
not divide will never enter well into business ; and 
he that divideth too much will never come out of 
it clearly. To choose time is to save time ; and an 
unseasonable motion is but beating the air. There 
be three parts of business, the preparation; the 
debate, or examination ; and the perfection; where- 
of, if you look for dispatch, let the middle only be 
the work of many, and the first and last the work 
of few. The proceeding upon somewhat conceived 
in writing doth for the most part facilitate dis- 
patch : for though it should be wholly rejected, 
yet that negative is more pregnant of direction 
than an indefinite, as ashes are more generative 
than dust. 


IT hath been an opinion, that the French are 
wiser than they seem, and the Spaniards seem 
wiser than they are ; but howsoever it be between 
nations, certainly it is so between man and man ; 
for as the apostle saith of godliness, " Having a 
shew of godliness, but denying the power thereof; " 


so certainly there are in point of wisdom and suf- 
ficiency, that do nothing* or little' very solemnly : 
4 * magno conatu nugas." It is a ridiculous thing, 
and fit for a satire to persons of judgment, to see 
what shifts these formalists have, and what pros- 
pectives to make superfices to seem body that hath 
depth and bulk. Some are so close and reserved, 
as they will not show their wares but by a dark 
light, and seem always to keep back somewhat ; 
and when they know within themselves they speak 
of that they do not well know, would nevertheless 
seem to others to know of that which they may 
not well speak. Some help themselves with coun- 
tenance and gesture, and are wise by signs ; as 
Cicero saith of Piso, that when he answered him 
he fetched one of his brows up to his forehead, and 
bent the other down to his chin ; " Respondes, al- 
tero ad frontem sublato, altero ad mentum depresso 
supercilio, crudelitatem tibi non placere." Some 
think to bear it by speaking a great word, and be- 
ing 1 peremptory ; and go on, and take by admittance 
that which they cannot make good. Some, what- 
soever is beyond their reach, will seem to despise, 
or make light of it as impertinent or curious : and 
so would have their ignorance seem judgment. 
Some are never without a difference, and commonly 
by amusing men with a subtilty, blanch the matter; 
of whom A. Gellius saith, " Hominem delirum, qui 
verborum, minutiis rerum frangit pondera." Of 
which kind also Plato, in his Protagoras, bringeth 


in Prodicus in scorn, and maketb him make a speech 
that consisteth of distinctions from the beginning 
to the end. Generally such men, in all delibera- 
tions, find ease to be of the negative side, and affect 
a credit to object and foretell difficulties ; for when 
propositions are denied, there is an end of them ; 
but if they be allowed, it require th a new work ; 
which false point of wisdom is the bane of business. 
To conclude, there is no decaying merchant, or in- 
ward beggar, hath so many tricks to uphold the cre- 
dit of their wealth, as these empty persons have to 
maintain the credit of their sufficiency. Seeming 
wise men may make shift to get opinion ; but let 
no man choose them for employment ; for certainly, 
you were better take for business a man somewhat 
absurd than over- formal. 


IT had been hard for him that spake it to have 
put more truth and untruth together in few 
words than in that speech, " Whosoever is delighted 
in solitude, is either a wild beast or a god : " for it 
is most true, that a natural and secret hatred and 
aversation towards society in any man, hath some- 
what of the savage beast ; but it is most untrue, 
that it should have any character at all of the di- 
vine nature, except it proceed, not out of a pleasure 


in solitude, but out of a love and desire to sequester 
a man's self for a higher conversation : such as is 
found to have been falsely and feignedly in some 
of the heathen; as Epimenides, theCandian; Nu- 
ma, the Roman; Empedocles, the Sicilian; and 
Apollonius of Tyana ; and truly and really in divers 
of the ancient hermi ts and holy fathers of the church . 
But little do men perceive what solitude is, and how 
far it extendeth; for a crowd is not company, and 
faces are but a gallery of pictures, and talk but a 
tinkling cymbal where there is no love. The Latin 
adage meeteth with it a little : " Magna civitas, 
magna solitudo ; " because in a great town friends 
are scattered, so that there is not that fellowship, 
for the most part, which is in less neighbourhoods : 
but we may go farther, and affirm most truly, that 
it is a mere and miserable solitude to want true 
friends, without which the world is but a wilder- 
ness ; and even in this sense also of solitude, who- 
soever in the frame of his nature and affections is 
unfit for friendship, he taketh it of the beast, and 
not from humanity. 

A principal fruit of friendship is the ease and 
discharge of the fulness and swellings of the heart, 
which passions of all kinds do cause and induce. 
We know diseases of stoppings and suffocations 
are the most dangerous in the body ; and it is not 
much otherwise in the mind ; you may take sarza 
to open the liver, steel to open the spleen, flower 
of sulphur for the lungs, castoreum for the brain ; 


but no receipt openeth the heart but a true friend, 
to whom you may impart griefs, joys, fears, hopes, 
suspicions, counsels, and whatsoever lieth upon the 
heart to oppress it, in a kind of civil shrift or con- 

It is a strange thing to observe how high a rate 
great kings and monarchs do set upon this fruit of 
friendship whereof we speak : so great, as they 
purchase it many times at the hazard of their own 
safety and greatness : for princes, in regard of the 
distance of their fortune from that of their subjects 
and servants, cannot gather this fruit, except (to 
make themselves capable thereof) they raise some 
persons to be as it were companions, and almost 
equals to themselves, which many times sorteth to 
inconvenience. The modern languages give unto 
such persons the name of favourites, or privadoes, 
as if it were matter of grace, or conversation ; but 
the Roman name attaineth the true use and cause 
thereof, naming them " participes curarum ; " for 
it is that which tieth the knot : and we see plainly 
that this hath been done, not by weak and pas- 
sionate princes only, but by the wisest and most 
politic that ever reigned, who have oftentimes joined 
to themselves some of their servants, whom both 
themselves have called friends, and allowed others 
likewise to call them in the same manner, using 
the word which is received between private men. 

L. Sylla, when he commanded Rome, raised 
Pompey (after surnamed the Great) to that height, 


that Pompey vaunted himself for Sylla's over- 
match ; for when he had carried the consulship for 
a friend of his, against the pursuit of Sylla, and 
that Sylla did a little resent thereat, and began 
to speak great, Pompey turned upon him again, 
and in effect bade him be quiet; for that more men 
adored the sun rising than the sun setting. With 
Julius Csesar, Decimus Brutus had obtained that 
interest, as he set him down in his testament for 
heir in remainder after his nephew ; and this was 
the man that had power with him to draw him 
forth to his death : for when Csesar would have 
discharged the senate, in regard of some ill pre- 
sages, and specially a dream of Calpurnia, this 
man lifted him gently by the arm out of his chair, 
telling him he hoped he would not dismiss the se- 
nate till his wife had dreamed a better dream ; and 
it seemeth his favour was so great, as Antonius in 
a letter which is recited verbatim in one of Cicero's 
Philippics, calleth him "veneflca," — "witch;" as 
if he had enchanted Csesar. Augustus raised 
Agrippa (though of mean birth) to that height, as, 
when he consulted with Meecenas about the mar- 
riage of his daughter Julia, Meecenas took the 
liberty to tell him, that he must either marry his 
daughter to Agrippa, or take away his life : there 
was no third way, he had made him so great. With 
Tiberius Csesar, Sejanus had ascended to that height 
as they two were termed and reckoned as a pair of 
friends. Tiberius, in a letter to him, saith, " Hasc 


pro amicitia nostra non occultavi ; " and the whole 
senate dedicated an altar to Friendship, as to a god- 
dess, in respect of the great dearness of friendship 
between them two. The like, or more, was between,. 
Septimius Severus and Plantianus ; for he forced 
his eldest son to marry the daughter of Plantianus, 
and would often maintain Plantianus in doing af- 
fronts to his son ; and did write also, in a letter to 
the senate, by these words: " I love the man so 
well, as I wish he may over-live me." Now, if 
these princes had been as a Trajan, or a Marcus 
Aurelius, a man might have thought that this had 
proceeded of an abundant goodness of nature ; but 
being men so wise, of such strength and severity 
of mind, and so extreme lovers of themselves, as 
all these were, it proveth most plainly, that they 
found their own felicity (though as great as ever 
happened to mortal men) but as an half piece, ex- 
cept they might have a friend to make it entire ; 
and yet, which is more, they were princes that had 
wives, sons, nephews; and yet all these could not 
supply the comfort of friendship. 

It is not to be forgotten what Comineus observ- 
eth of his first master, duke Charles the Hardy, 
namely, that he would communicate his secrets with 
none ; and least of all, those secrets which troubled 
him most. Whereupon he goeth on, and saith that 
towards his latter time that closeness did impair and 
a little perish his understanding. Surely Comineus 
might have made the same judgment also, if it had 


pleased him, of his second master, Lewis the Ele- 
venth, whose closeness was indeed his tormentor. 
The parable of Pythagoras is dark, but true, "Cor 
ne edito," — " eat not the heart." Certainly, if a 
man would give it a hard phrase, those that want 
friends to open themselves unto are cannibals of 
their own hearts : but one thing is most admirable 
(wherewith I will conclude this first fruit of friend- 
ship), which is, that this communicating of a man's 
self to his friend works two contrary effects, for it 
redoubleth joys, and cutteth griefs in halves ; for 
there is no man that imparteth his joys to his friend, 
but he joyeth the more : and no man that imparteth 
his griefs to his friend, but he grieve th the less. 
So that it is, in truth, of operation upon a man's 
mind of like virtue as the alchymists use to attri- 
bute to their stone for man's body, that it worketh 
all contrary effects, but still to the good and benefit 
of nature : but yet, without praying in aid of al- 
chymists, there is a manifest image of this in the 
ordinary course of nature ; for, in bodies,- union 
strengthened and cherisheth any natural action ; 
and, on the other side, weakeneth and dulleth any 
violent impression ; and even so it is of minds. 

The second fruit of friendship is healthful and 
sovereign for the understanding, as the first is for 
the affections ; for friendship maketh indeed a fair 
day in the affections from storm and tempests, but 
it maketh daylight in the understanding, out of 
darkness and confusion of thoughts : neither is this 


to be understood only of faithful counsel, which a 
man receiveth from his friend ; but before you come 
to that, certain it is, that whosoever hath his mind 
fraught with many thoughts, his wits and under- 
standing do clarify and break up, in the commu- 
nicating and discoursing with another ; he tosseth 
his thoughts more easily ; he marshalleth them more 
orderly ; he seeth how they look when they are 
turned into words : finally, he waxeth wiser than 
himself; and that more by an hour's discourse than 
by a day's meditation. It w r as well said by Themis- 
tocles to the king of Persia, "That speech was 
like cloth of Arras, opened and put abroad ; where- 
by the imagery doth appear in figure ; whereas in 
thoughts they lie but as in packs." Neither is this 
second fruit of friendship, in opening the under- 
standing, restrained only to such friends as are able 
to give a man counsel, (they indeed are best,) but 
even without that a man learneth of himself, and 
bringeth his own thoughts to light, and whetteth 
his wits as against a stone, which itself cuts not. 
In a word, a man were better relate himself to a 
statue or picture, than to suffer his thoughts to pass 
in smother. 

Add now, to make this second fruit of friendship 
complete, that other point which lieth more open, 
and falleth within vulgar observation : which is 
faithful counsel from a friend. Heraclitus saith 
well in one of his enigmas, " Dry light is ever the 
best:" and certain it is, that the light that a man 


receiveth by counsel from another, is drier and 
purer than that which cometh from his own under- 
standing and judgment; which is ever infused and 
drenched in his affections and customs. So as there 
is as much difference between the counsel that a 
friend giveth, and that a man giveth himself, as 
there is between the counsel of a friend and of a 
flatterer ; for there is no such flatterer as is a man's 
self, and there is no such remedy against flattery 
of a man's self as the liberty of a friend. Counsel 
is of two sorts ; the one concerning manners, the 
other concerning business : for the first, the best 
preservative to keep the mind in health is the faith- 
ful admonition of a friend. The calling of a man's 
self to a strict account is a medicine sometimes too 
piercing and corrosive ; reading good books of mo- 
rality is a little flat and dead ; observing our faults 
in others is sometimes improper for our case ; but 
the best receipt (best I say to work and best to take) 
is the admonition of a friend. It is a strange thing 
to behold what gross errors and extreme absurdities 
many (especially of the greater sort) do commit for 
want of a friend to tell them of them, to the great 
damage both of their fame and fortune : for, as St. 
James saith, they are as men " that look sometimes 
into a glass, and presently forget their own shape 
and favour: " as for business, a man may think, if 
he will, that two eyes see no more than one ; or, 
that a gamester seeth always more than a looker- 
on ; or, that a man in anger is as wise as he that 

100 ESSAYS. 

hath said over the four and twenty letters ; or, that 
a musket may be shot off as well upon the arm as 
upon a rest ; and such other fond and high imagi- 
nations, to think himself all in all: but when all is 
done, the help of good counsel is that which setteth 
business straight ; and if any man think that he 
will take counsel, but it shall be by pieces; asking 
counsel in one business of one man, and in another 
business of another man ; it is well, (that is to say, 
better, perhaps, than if he asked none at all,) but 
he runneth two dangers ; one, that he shall not be 
faithfully counselled ; for it is a rare thing, except 
it be from a perfect and entire friend, to have 
counsel given, but such as shall be bowed and 
crooked to some ends which he hath that giveth it : 
the other that he shall have counsel given, hurtful 
and unsafe, (though with good meaning,) and mixed 
partly of mischief, and partly of remedy; even 
as if you would call a physician, that is thought 
good for the cure of the disease you complain of, 
but is unacquainted with your body; and, there- 
fore, may put you in a way for a present cure, but 
overthroweth your health in some other kind, and 
so cure the disease, and kill the patient: but a 
friend, that is wholly acquainted with a man's 
estate, will beware, by furthering any present bu- 
siness, how he dasheth upon other inconvenience ; 
and, therefore, rest not upon scattered counsels ; 
they will rather distract and mislead, than settle 
and direct. 


After these two noble fruits of friendship, (peace 
in the affections, and support of the judgment), 
followeth the last fruit, which is, like the pomegra- 
nate, full of many kernels ; I mean, aid and bear- 
ing a part in all actions and occasions. Here the 
best way to represent to life the manifold use of 
friendship, is to cast and see how many things there 
are which a man cannot do himself; and tf.ien it 
will appear that it was a sparing speech of the an- 
cients, to say, " that a friend is another himself; 
for that a friend is far more than himself." Men 
have their time, and die many times in desire of 
some things which they principally take to heart ; 
the bestowing of a child, the finishing of a work, 
or the like. If a man have a true friend, he may 
rest almost secure that the care of those things will 
continue after him; so that a man hath, as it were, 
two lives in his desires. A man hath a body, and 
that body is confined to a place : but where friend- 
ship is, all offices of life are, as it were, granted 
to him and his deputy ; for he may exercise them 
by his friend. How many things are there, which 
a man cannot, with any face, or comeliness, say or 
do himself? A man can scarce allege his own me- 
rits with modesty, much less extol them : a man 
cannot sometimes brook to supplicate, or beg, and 
a number of the like : but all these things are o'race- 
ful in a friend's mouth, which are blushing in a 
man's own. So again, a man's person hath many 
proper relations which he cannot put off. A man 

102 ESSAYS. 

cannot speak to his son but as a father ; to his wife 
but as a husband ; to his enemy but upon terms : 
whereas a friend may speak as the case requires, 
and not as it sorteth with the person : but to enu- 
merate these things were endless ; I have given the 
rule, where a man cannot fitly play his own part, 
if he have not a friend, he may quit the stage. 


RICHES are forspending, and spending forho- 
nour and good actions ; therefore extraordinary 
expence must be limited by the worth of the occasion ; 
for voluntary undoing may be as well for a man's 
country as for the kingdom of heaven ; but ordi- 
nary expence ought to be limited by a man's estate, 
and governed with such regard, as it be within his 
compass ; and not subject to deceit and abuse of 
servants; and ordered to the best shew, that the 
bills may be less than the estimation abroad. Cer- 
tainly, if a man will keep but of even hand, his or- 
dinary expences ought to be but to the half of his 
receipts ; and if he think to wax rich, but to the 
third part. It is no baseness for the greatest to 
descend and look into their own estate. Some for- 
bear it, not upon negligence alone, but doubting to 
bring themselves into melancholy, in respect they 
shall find it broken : but wounds cannot be cured 

ON' EX PENCE. 103 

without searching. He that cannot look into his 
own estate at all, had need both choose well those 
whom he employeth, and change them often ; for 
new are more timorous and less subtle. He that 
can look into his estate but seldom, it behoveth him 
to turn all to certainties. A man had need , if he be 
plentiful in some kind of expence, to be as saving 
again in some other : as if he be plentiful in diet, 
to be saving in apparel : if he be plentiful in the 
hall, to be saving in the stable, and the like ; for he 
that is plentiful in expences of all kinds will hardly 
be preserved from decay. In clearing of a man's 
estate, he may as well hurt himself in being too 
sudden, as in letting it run on too long ; for hasty 
selling is commonly as disadvantageable as interest. 
Besides, he that clears at once will relapse ; for find- 
ing himself out of straits, he will revert to his cus- 
toms : but he that cleareth by degrees induceth a 
habit of frugality, and gaineth as well upon his 
mind as upon his estate. Certainly, who hath a 
state to repair, may not despise small things; and, 
commonly, it is less dishonourable to abridge petty 
charges than to stoop to petty gettings. A man 
ought warily to begin charges, which once begun 
will continue : but in matters that return not, he 
may be more magnificent. 




THE speech of Themis tocles, the Athenian, 
which was haughty and arrogant, in taking so 
much to himself, had been a grave and wise obser- 
vation and censure, applied at large to others. — 
Desired at a feast to touch a lute, he said, u He 
could not fiddle, but yet he could make a small 
town a great city." These words (holpen a little 
with a metaphor) may express two differing abi- 
lities in those that deal in business of estate ; for, 
if a true survey be taken of counsellors and states- 
men, there may be found, (though rarely) those 
which can make a small state great, and yet can- 
not fiddle : as, on the other side, there will be found 
a great many that can fiddle very cunningly, but 
yet are so far from being able to make a small state 
great, as their gift lieth the other way ; to bring 
a great and flourishing estate to ruin and decay ; 
and, certainly, those degenerate arts and shifts, 
whereby many counsellors and governors gain both 
favour with their masters, and estimation with the 
vulgar, deserve no better name than fiddling ; being 
things rather pleasing for the time, and graceful to 
themselves only, than tending to the weal and ad- 


vancement of the state which they serve. There 
are also (no doubt) counsellors and governors which 
may be held sufficient, " negotiis pares," able to 
manage affairs, and to keep them from precipices 
and manifest inconveniences ; which, nevertheless, 
are far from the ability to raise and amplify an 
estate in power, means, and fortune: but be the 
workmen what they may be, let us speak of the 
work ; that is, the true greatness of kingdoms and 
estates, and the means thereof. An argument fit 
for great and mighty princes to have in their hand ; 
to the end, that neither by over-measuring their 
forces, they lose themselves in vain enterprises : 
nor, on the other side, by undervaluing them, they 
descend to fearful and pusillanimous counsels. 

The greatness of an estate, in bulk and terri- 
tory, doth fall under measure ; and the greatness 
of finances and revenue doth fall under computa- 
tion. The population may appear by musters ; and 
the number and greatness of cities and towns by 
cards and maps ; but yet there is not any thing, 
amongst civil affairs, more subject to error than the 
right valuation and true judgment concerning the 
power and forces of an estate. The kingdom of 
heaven is compared, not to any great kernel, or 
nut, but to a grain of mustard-seed ; which is one 
of the least grains, but hath in it a property and 
spirit hastily to get up and spread. So are there 
states great in territory, and yet not apt to enlarge 

106 ESSAYS. 

or command : and some that have but a small di- 
mension of stem, and yet apt to be the foundations 
of great monarchies. 

Walled towns, stored arsenals and armories, 
goodly races of horse, chariots of war, elephants, 
ordnance, artillery, and the like ; all this is but a 
sheep in a lion's skin, except the breed and dispo- 
sition of the people be stout and warlike. Nay, 
number (itself) in armies importeth not much, 
where the people is of weak courage ; for, as Vir- 
gil saith, " It never troubles a wolf how many the 
sheep be." The army of the Persians in the plains 
of Arbela was such a vast sea of people, as it did 
somewhat astonish the commanders in Alexander's 
army, who came to him, therefore, and wished him 
to set upon them by night; but he answered, " He 
would not pilfer the victory ; " and the defeat was 
easy. When Tigranes, the Arminian, being en- 
camped upon a hill with four hundred thousand 
men, discovered the army of the Romans, being 
not above fourteen thousand, marching towards 
him, he made himself merry with it, and said, 
" Yonder men are too many for an ambassage, and 
too few for a fight ;" but before the sun set, he 
found them enow to give him the chase with infi- 
nite slaughter. Many are the examples of the great 
odds between number and courage : so that a man 
may truly make a judgment, that the principal point 
of greatness, in any state, is to have a race of mi- 
litary men. Neither is money the sinews of war 


(as it is trivially said), where the sinews of men's 
arms in base and effeminate people are failing ; for 
Solon said well to Croesus (when in ostentation he 
shewed him his gold), " Sir, if any other come that 
hath better iron than you, he will be master of all 
this gold." Therefore, let any prince, or state, 
think soberly of his forces, except his militia of 
natives be of good and valiant soldiers ; and let 
princes, on the other side, that have subjects of 
martial disposition, know their own strength, un- 
less they be otherwise wanting unto themselves. 
As for mercenary forces (which is the help in this 
case,) all examples show that, whatsoever estate, 
or prince, doth rest upon them, he may spread his 
feathers for a time, but he will mew them soon after. 
The blessing of Judah and Issachar will never 
meet ; that the same people, or nation, should be 
both the lion's whelp and the ass between burdens ; 
neither will it be, that a people overlaid with taxes 
should ever become valiant and martial. It is true, 
that taxes, levied by consent of the estate, do abate 
men's courage less ; as it hath been seen notably 
in the excises of the Low Countries; and, in some 
degree, in the subsidies of England; for, you must 
note, that we speak now of the heart, and not of 
the purse ; so that, although the same tribute and 
tax laid by consent or by imposing, be all one to 
the purse, yet it works diversely upon the courage. 
So that you may conclude, that no people over- 
charged with tribute is fit for empire. 

108 ESSAYS. 

Let states, that aim at greatness, take heed how 
their nobility and gentlemen do multiply too fast ; 
for that maketh the common subject grow to be a 
peasant and base swain, driven out of heart, and, 
in effect but the gentleman's labourer. Even as 
you may see in coppice woods ; if you leave your 
staddles too thick, you shall never have clean un- 
derwood, but shrubs and bushes. So in countries, 
if the gentlemen be too many, the commons will be 
base ; and you will bring it to that, that not the 
hundredth poll will be fit for a helmet; especially 
as to the infantry, which is the nerve of an army ; 
and so there will he great population and little 
strength. This which I speak of hath been no 
where better seen than by comparing of England 
and France ; whereof England, though far less in 
territory and population, hath been (nevertheless) 
an overmatch ; in regard the middle people of Eng- 
land make good soldiers, which the peasants of 
France do not: and herein the device of king- 
Henry the Seventh (whereof I have spoken largely 
in the history of his life) was profound and admir- 
able ; in making farms and houses of husbandry 
of a standard ; that is, maintained with such a pro- 
portion of land unto them as may breed a subject 
to live in convenient plenty, and no servile condi- 
tion ; and to keep the plough in the hands of the 
owners, and not mere hirelings ; and thus indeed 
you shall attain to Virgil's character, which he 
gives to ancient Italy : 


" Terra potens armis atque ubere glebab." 
Neither is that state (which, for any thing" I 
know, is almost peculiar to England, and hardly 
to he found any where else, except it be, perhaps, 
in Poland) to be passed over ; I mean the state of 
free servants and attendants upon noblemen and 
gentlemen, which are no ways inferior unto the 
yeomanry for arms; and, therefore, out of all ques- 
tion, the splendour and magnificence, and great 
retinues, and hospitality of noblemen and gentle- 
men received into custom, do much conduce unto 
martial greatness ; whereas, contrariwise, the close 
and reserved living of noblemen and gentlemen 
causeth a penury of military forces. 

By all means it is to be procured, that the trunk 
of Nebuchadnezzar's tree of monarchy be great 
enough to bear the branches and the boughs ; that 
i is, that the natural subjects of the crown, or state, 
bear a sufficient proportion to the stranger subjects 
that they govern ; therefore all states that are liberal 
of naturalization towards strangers are fit for em- 
pire : for to think that a handful of people can, 
with the greatest courage and policy in the world, 
embrace too large extent of dominion, it may hold 
for a time, but it will fail suddenly. The Spartans 
were a nice people in point of naturalization ; 
whereby, while they kept their compass, they stood 
firm ; but when they did spread, and their boughs 
were become too great for their stem, they became 
a windfall upon the sudden. Never any state was, 



in this point, so open to receive strangers into their 
body as were the Romans ; therefore it sorted with 
them accordingly, for they grew to the greatest 
monarchy. Their manner was to grant naturaliza- 
tion (which they called "jus civitatis"),and to grant 
it in the highest degree, that is, not only "jus com- 
mercii, jus connubii, jus hsereditatis ; " but also, 
"jus suffragii, ,, and "jus honorum;" and this not 
to singular persons alone, but likewise to w T hole 
families ; yea, to cities, and sometimes to nations. 
Add to this their custom of plantation of colonies, 
whereby the Roman plant was removed into the 
soil of other nations, and, putting both constitutions 
together, you will say, that it was not the Romans 
that spread upon the world, but it was the world 
that spread upon the Romans ; and that was the 
sure way of greatness. I have marvelled sometimes 
at Spain, how they clasp and contain so large do- 
minions with so few natural Spaniards ; but sure 
the whole compass of Spain is a very great body of 
a tree, far above Rome and Sparta at the first; and, 
besides, though they have not had that usage to 
naturalize liberally, yet they have that which is 
next to it; that is, to employ, almost indifferently, 
all nations in their militia of ordinary soldiers ; yea, 
and sometimes in their highest commands ; nay, it 
seemeth, at this instant, they are sensible of this 
want of natives ; as by the pragmatical sanction, 
now published, appeareth. 

It is certain, that sedentary and within-door arts, 


and delicate manufactures (that require rather the 
finger than the arm), have in their nature a contra- 
riety to a military disposition ; and generally all 
warlike people are a little idle, and love danger 
better than travail ; neither must they be too much 
broken of it, if they shall be preserved in vigour : 
therefore it was great advantage in the ancient 
states of Sparta, Athens, Rome, and others, that 
they had the use of slaves, which commonly did rid 
those manufactures ; but that is abolished, in great- 
est part, by the Christian law. That which cometh 
nearest to it is, to leave those arts chiefly to stran- 
gers (which, for that purpose, are the more easily 
to be received), and to contain the principal bulk 
of the vulgar natives within those three kinds, til- 
lers of the ground, free servants, and handicrafts- 
men of strong and manly arts; as smiths, masons, 
carpenters, &c. not reckoning professed soldiers. 

But, above all, for empire and greatness, it im- 
porteth most, that a nation do profess arms as their 
principal honour, study, and occupation ; for the 
things which we formerly have spoken of are but 
habilitations towards arms ; and what is habilitation 
without intention and act ? Romulus, after his 
death, (as they report or feign), sent a present to 
the Romans, that above all they should intend arms, 
and then they should prove the greatest empire of 
the world. The fabric of the state of Sparta was 
wholly (though not wisely) framed and composed 
to that scope and end ; the Persians and Macedo- 

1 ] 2 ESSAYS. 

nians had it for a flash ; the Gauls , Germans, Goths, I 
Saxons, Normans, and others, had it for a time : 
the Turks have it at this day, though in great de- 
clination. Of Christian Europe, they that have it 
are, in effect, only the Spaniards : but it is so plain, . 
that every man profiteth in that he mostintendeth, 
that it needeth not to be stood upon : it is enough 
to point at it ; that no nation which doth not directly 
profess arms, may look to have greatness fall into 
their mouths ; and, on the other side, it is a most 
certain oracle of time, that those states that conti- 
nue long in that profession (as the Romans and 
Turks principally have done) do wonders ; and those 
that have professed arms but for an age have, not- 
withstanding, commonly attained that greatness in 
that age which maintained them long after, when 
their profession and exercise of arms had grown to 

Incident to this point, is for a state to have those 
laws or customs which may reach forth unto them 
just occasions (as may be pretended) of war ; for 
there is that justice imprinted in the nature of men, 
that they enter not upon wars (whereof so many 
calamities do ensue), but upon some, at the least 
specious grounds and quarrels. The Turk hath at 
hand, for cause of war, the propagation of his law 
or sect, a quarrel that he^may always command. 
The Romans, though they esteemed the extending 
the limits of their empire to be great honour to 
their generals when it was done, yet they never 


rested upon that alone to begin a war : first, there- 
fore, let nations that pretend to greatness have this, 
that they be sensible of wrongs, either upon bor- 
derers, merchants, or politic ministers ; and that 
they sit not too long upon a provocation : secondly, 
let them be pressed and ready to give aids and suc- 
cours to their confederates ; as it ever was with the 
Romans ; insomuch, as if the confederates had 
leagues defensive with divers other states, and, 
upon invasion offered, did implore their aids seve- 
rally, yet the Romans would ever be the foremost, 
and leave it to none other to have the honour. As 
for the wars, which were anciently made on the 
behalf of a kind of party, or tacit conformity of 
estate, I do not see how they may be well justified : 
as when the Romans made a war for the liberty of 
Grsecia : or, when the Lacedaemonians and Athe- 
nians made wars to set up or pull down democra- 
cies and oligarchies : or when wars were made by 
foreigners, under the pretence of justice or protec- 
tion, to deliver the subjects of others from tyranny 
and oppression, and the like. Let it suffice, that 
no estate expect to be great, that is not awake, upon 
any just occasion of arming. 

Nobody can be healthful without exercise, nei- 
ther natural body nor politic ; and, certainly, to a 
kingdom, or estate, a just and honourable war is 
the true exercise. A civil war, indeed, is like the 
heat of a fever ; but a foreign war is like the heat 
of exercise, andserveth to keep the body in health ; 

114 ESSAYS. 

for, in a slothful peace, both courages will effemi- 
nate and manners corrupt ; but howsoever it be for 
happiness, without all question for greatness, it 
maketh to be still for the most part in arms ; and 
the strength of a veteran army (though it be a 
chargeable business), always on foot, is that which 
commonly giveth the law ; or, at least, the reputa- 
tion amongst all neighbour states, as may well be 
seen in Spain, which hath had, in one part or other, 
a veteran army almost continually, now by the space 
of six score years. 

To be master of the sea is an abridgment of a 
monarchy. Cicero, writing to Atticus of Pompey's 
preparation against Caesar, saith, " Consilium Pom- 
peii plane Themistocleum est; putat enim, qui 
mari potitur, eum rerum potiri ;" and, without 
doubt, Pompey had tired out Caesar, if upon vain 
confidence he had not left that way. We see the 
great effects of battles by sea : the battle of Actium 
decided the empire of the world ; the battle of Le- 
panto arrested the greatness of the Turk. There 
be many examples where sea fights have been final 
to the war: but this is when princes, or states, have 
set up their rest upon the battles ; but thus much 
is certain, that he that commands the sea is at great 
liberty, and may take as much and as little of the 
war as he will ; whereas those that be strongest by 
land are many times, nevertheless, in great straits. 
Surely, at this day, with us of Europe, the vantage 
of strength at sea (which is one of the principal 


dowries of this kingdom of Great Britain) is great ; 
both because most of the kingdoms of Europe are 
not merely inland, but girt with the sea most part 
of their compass ; and because the wealth of both 
Indies seems, in great part, but an accessary to the 
command of the seas. 

The wars of later ages seem to be made in the 
dark, in respect to the glory and honour which re- 
flected upon men from the wars in ancient time. 
There be now, for martial encouragement, some 
degrees and orders of chivalry, which nevertheless, 
are conferred promiscuously upon soldiers and no 
soldiers, and some remembrance perhaps upon the 
escutcheon, and some hospitals for maimed soldiers, 
and such like things ; but in ancient times, the tro- 
phies erected upon the place of the victory ; the 
funeral laudatives and monuments for those that 
died in the wars ; the crowns and garlands perso- 
nal ; the style of emperor, which the great kings of 
the world after borrowed; the triumphs of the ge- 
nerals upon their return ; the great donatives and 
largesses upon the disbanding of the armies, were 
things able to inflame all men's courages ; but 
above all, that of the triumph amongst the Romans 
was not pageants, orgaudery, but one of the wisest 
and noblest institutions that ever was ; for it con- 
tained three things, honour to the general, riches 
to the treasury out of the spoils, and donatives to 
the army : but that honour, perhaps, were not fit 
for monarchies, except it be in the person of the 

116 ESSAYS. 

monarch himself, or his sons ; as it came to pass in 
the times of the Roman emperors, who did impro- 
priate the actual triumphs to themselves and their 
sons, for such wars as they did achieve in person, 
and left only for wars achieved by subjects, some 
triumphal garments and ensigns to the general. 

To conclude : no man can by care taking (as the 
Scripture saith), " add a cubit to his stature," in 
this little model of a man's body ; but in the great 
fame of kingdoms and commonwealths, it is in the 
power of princes, or estates, to add amplitude and 
greatness to their kingdoms ; for by introducing 
such ordinances, constitutions, and customs, as 
we have now touched, they may sow greatness to 
their posterity and succession : but these things are 
commonly not observed, but left to take, their 


THERE is a wisdom in this beyond the rules 
of physic : a man's own observation, what he 
finds good of, and what he finds hurt of, is the best 
physic to preserve health ; but it is a safer conclu- 
sion to say, " This agreeth not well with me, there- 
fore I will not continue it;" than this, " I find no 
offence of this, therefore I may use it:" for strength 
of nature in youth passeth over many excesses 


which are owing a man till his age. Discern of 
the coming on of years, and think not to do the same 
things still; for age will not be defied. Beware 
of sudden change in any great point of diet, and ? 
if necessity enforce it, fit the rest to it ; for it is a 
secret both in nature and state, that it is safer to 
change many things than one. Examine thy cus- 
toms of diet, sleep, exercise, apparel, and the like ; 
and try, in any thing thou shalt judge hurtful, 
to discontinue it by little and little ; but so, as if 
thou dost find any inconvenience by the change, 
thou come back to it again : for it is hard to dis- 
tinguish that which is generally held good and 
wholesome, from that which is good particularly, 
and fit for thine own body. To be free-minded 
and cheerfully disposed at hours of meat and of 
sleep, and of exercise, is one of the best precepts of 
long lasting. As for the passions and studies of the 
mind, avoid envy, anxious fears, anger, fretting in- 
wards, subtle and knotty inquisitions, joys, and ex- 
hilarations in excess, sadness not communicated. 
Entertain hopes, mirth rather than joy, variety of 
delights, rather than surfeit of them; wonder and 
admiration, and therefore novelties ; studies that 
fill the mind with splendid and illustrious objects, 
as histories, fables, and contemplations of nature. 
If you fly physic in health altogether, it will be too 
strange for your body when you shall need it ; if you 
make it too familiar, it will work no extraordinary 
effect when sickness cometh. I commend rather 

118 ESSAYS. 

some diet, for certain seasons, than frequent use of 
physic, except it be grown into a custom ; for those 
diets alter the body more, and trouble it less. Des- 
pise no new accident in your body, but ask opinion 
of it. In sickness, respect health principally; and 
in health, action : for those that put their bodies to 
endure in health, may, in most sicknesses which 
are not very sharp, be cured only with diet and 
tendering. Celsus could never have spoken it as 
a physician, had he not been a wise man withal, 
when he giveth it for one of the great precepts of 
health and lasting, that a man do vary and inter- 
change contraries, but with an inclination to the 
more benign extreme : use fasting and full eating, 
but rather full eating ; watching and sleep, but ra- 
ther sleep ; sitting and exercise, but rather exer- 
cise, and the like : so shall nature be cherished, 
and yet taught masteries. Physicians are some of 
them so pleasing and conformable to the humour 
of the patient, as they press not the true cure of 
the disease ; and some other are so regular in pro- 
ceeding according to art for the disease, as they 
respect not sufficiently the condition of the patient. 
Take one of a middle temper ; or, if it may not be 
found in one man, combine two of either sort ; and 
forget not to call as well the best acquainted with 
your body, as the best reputed of for his faculty. 



SUSPICIONS among thoughts are like bats 
among birds, they ever fly by twilight : cer- 
tainly they are to be repressed, or at the least well 
guarded ; for they cloud the mind, they lose friends, 
and they check with business, whereby business 
cannot go on currently and constantly : they dispose 
kings to tyranny, husbands to jealousy, wise men 
to irresolution and melancholy : they are defects, 
not in the heart, but in the brain ; for they take 
place in the stoutest natures, as in the example of 
Henry the Seventh of England ; there was not a 
more suspicious man nor a more stout: and in such 
a composition they do small hurt; for commonly 
they are not admitted, but with examination, whe- 
ther they be likely or no ? but in fearful natures 
they gain ground too fast. There is nothing makes a 
man suspect much, more than to know little; and, 
therefore, men should remedy suspicion by procur- 
ing to know more, and not to keep their suspicions 
in smother. What would men have ? do they think 
those they employ and deal with are saints ? do they 
not think they will have their own ends, and be 
truer to themselves than to them? therefore there 
is no better way to moderate suspicions, than to ac- 
count upon such suspicions as true, and yet to bridle 

120 ESSAYS. 

them as false : for so far a man ought to make use 
of suspicions, as to provide, as if that should be 
true that he suspects, yet it may do him no hurt. 
Suspicions that the mind of itself gathers are but 
buzzes ; but suspicions that are artificially nou- 
rished, and put into men's heads by the tales and 
whisperings of others, have stings. Certainly, the 
best mean, to clear the way in this same wood of 
suspicions, is frankly to communicate them with 
the party that he suspects ; for thereby he shall 
be sure to know more of the truth of them than 
he did before ; and withal shall make that party 
more circumspect, not to give further cause of 
suspicion ; but this would not be done to men of 
base natures ; for they, if they find themselves 
once suspected, will never be true. The Italian 
says, " Sospetto licentia fede ;" as if suspicion did 
give a passport to faith; but it ought rather to 
kindle it to discharge itself. 


SOME in their discourse desire rather commen- 
dation of wit, in being able to hold all argu- 
ments, than of judgment, in discerning what is 
true; as if it were a praise to know what might ll 
be said, and not what should be thought. Some 
have certain common places and themes, wherein 


they are good, and want variety ; which kind of 
poverty is for the most part tedious, and, when it 
is once perceived, ridiculous. The honourablest 
part of talk is to give the occasion ; and again to 
moderate and pass to somewhat else, for then a 
man leads the dance. It is good in discourse, and 
speech of conversation, to vary and intermingle 
speech of the present occasion with arguments, 
tales with reasons, asking of questions with telling 
of opinions, and jest with earnest ; for it is a dull 
thing to tire, and as we say now, to jade any thing 
too far. As for jest, there be certain things which 
ought to be privileged from it ; namely, religion, 
matters of state, great persons, any man's present 
business of importance, and any case that de- 
serveth pity; yet there be some thfit think their 
wits have been asleep, except they dart out some- 
what that is piquant, and to the quick ; that is a 
vein which would be bridled ; 

" Parce, puer, stimulis, et fortius utere loris." 

And, generally, men ought to find the difference 
between saltness and bitterness. Certainly, he that 
hath a satirical vein, as he maketh others afraid of 
his wit, so he had need be afraid of others' memory* 
He that questioneth much, shall learn much, and 
content much ; but especially if he apply his ques- 
tions to the skill of the persons whom he asketh ; 
for he shall give them occasion to please them- 
selves in speaking, and himself shall continually 

122 ESSAYS. 

gather knowledge ; but let his questions not be 
troublesome, for that is fit for a poser ; and let 
him be sure to leave other men their turns to 
speak : nay, if there be any that would reign and 
take up all the time, let him find means to take 
them off, and to bring others on, as musicians use 
to do with those that dance too long galliards. If 
you dissemble sometimes your knowledge of that 
you are thought to know, you shall be thought, 
another time, to know that you know not. Speech 
of a man's self ought to be seldom, and well 
chosen. I knew one was wont to say in scorn, 
" He must needs be a wise man, he speaks so 
much of himself :" and there is but one case 
wherein a man may commend himself with good 
grace, and that is in commending virtue in another, 
especially if it be such a virtue whereunto himself 
pretendeth. Speech of touch towards others should 
be sparingly used ; for discourse ought to be as a 
field, without coming home to any man. I knew 
two noblemen, of the west part of England, whereof 
the one was given to scoff, but kept ever royal 
cheer in his house ; the other would ask of those 
that had been at the other's table, " Tell truly, 
was there never a flout or dry blow given ?" To 
which the guest would answer, " Such and such 
a thing passed." The lord would say, " I thought 
he would mar a good dinner." Discretion of 
speech is more than eloquence ; and to speak 
agreeable to him with whom we deal, is more than 


to speak in good words, or in good order. A good 
continued speech, without a good speech of inter- 
locution, shews slowness; and a good reply, or 
second speech, without a good settled speech, 
sheweth shallowness and weakness. As we see in 
beasts, that those that are weakest in the course, 
are yet nimblest in the turn ; as it is betwixt the 
greyhound and the hare. To use too many cir- 
cumstances, ere one come to the matter, is weari- 
some : to use none at all is blunt. 


PLANTATIONS are amongst ancient, primi- 
tive, and heroical works. When the world 
was young it begat more children ; but now it is 
old it begets fewer : for I may justly account new 
plantations to be the children of former king- 
doms. I like a plantation in a pure soil ; that is, 
where people are not displanted to the end to plant 
in others ; for else it is rather an extirpation than 
a plantation. Planting of countries is like plant- 
ing of woods ; for you must make account to lose 
almost twenty years profit, and expect your re- 
compense in the end : for the principal thing that 
hath been the destruction of most plantations, hath 
been the base and hasty drawing of profit in the 
first years. It is true, speedy profit is not to be 

124 ESSAYS. 

neglected, as far as may stand with the good of 
the plantation, but no further. It is a shameful 
and unblessed thing to take the scum of people 
and wicked condemned men, to be the people with 
whom you plant ; and not only so, but it spoileth 
the plantation ; for they will ever live like rogues, 
and not fall to work, but be lazy, and do mischief, 
and spend victuals, and be quickly weary, and 
then certify over to their country to the discredit 
of the plantation. The people wherewith you 
plant ought to be gardeners, ploughmen, labourers, 
smiths, carpenters, joiners, fishermen, fowlers, 
with some few apothecaries, surgeons, cooks, and 
bakers. In a country of plantation, first look 
about what kind of victual the country yields of 
itself to hand : as chestnuts, walnuts, pine-apples, 
olives, dates, plums, cherries, wild honey, and the 
like, and make use of them. Then consider what 
victual, or esculent things there are, which grow 
speedily, and within the year ; as parsnips, carrots, 
turnips, onions, radish, artichokes of Jerusalem, 
maize, and the like : for wheat, barley, and oats, 
they ask too much labour ; but with pease and 
beans you may begin, both because they ask less 
labour, and because they serve for meat as well as 
for bread; and of rice likewise cometh a great 
increase, and it is a kind of meat. Above all, 
there ought to be brought store of biscuit, oat- 
meal, flour, meal, and the like, in the beginning, 
till bread may be had. For beasts, or birds, take 


chiefly such as are least subject to diseases, and 
multiply fastest; as swine, goats, cocks, hens, 
turkeys, geese, house-doves, and the like. The 
victual in plantations ought to be expended almost 
as in a besieged town ; that is, with certain allow- 
ance : and let the main part of the ground em- 
ployed to gardens or corn, be to a common stock ; 
and to be laid in, and stored up, and then delivered 
out in proportion ; besides some spots of ground 
that any particular person will manure for his own 
private use. Consider, likewise, what commodi- 
ties the soil where the plantation is doth naturally 
yield, that they may some way help to defray the 
charge of the plantation ; so it be not, as was said, 
to the untimely prejudice of the main business, as 
it hath fared with tobacco in Virginia. Wood 
commonly aboundeth but too much ; and therefore 
timber is fit to be one. If there be iron ore, and 
streams whereupon to set the mills, iron is a brave 
commodity where wood aboundeth. Making of 
bay-salt, if the climate be proper for it, would be 
put in experience : growing silk, likewise, if any 
be, is a likely commodity : pitch and tar, where 
store of firs and pines are, will not fail ; so drugs 
and sweet woods, where they are, cannot but yield 
great profit : soap-ashes likewise, and other things 
that may be thought of; but moil not too much 
under ground, for the hope of mines is very un- 
certain, and useth to make the planters lazy in 
other things. For government, let it be in the 

126 ESSAYS. 

hands of one, assisted with some counsel ; and let 
them have commission to exercise martial laws, 
with some limitation ; and above all, let men make 
that profit of being in the wilderness,' as they have 
God always, and his service before their eyes : 
let not the government of the plantation depend 
upon too many counsellors and undertakers in the 
country that planteth, but upon a temperate num- 
ber ; and let those be rather noblemen and gentle- 
men, than merchants; for they look ever to the 
present gain : let there be freedoms from custom, 
till the plantations be of strength; and not only 
freedom from custom, but freedom to carry their 
commodities where they may make their best of 
them, except there be some special cause of cau- 
tion. Cram not in people, by sending too fast, 
company after company ; but rather hearken how 
they waste, and send supplies proportionably ; but 
so as the number may live well in the plantation, 
and not by surcharge be in penury. It hath been 
a great endangering to the health of some planta- 
tions, that they have built along the sea and rivers, 
in marish and unwholesome grounds: therefore, 
though you begin there, to avoid carriage and 
other like discommodities, yet build still rather 
upwards from the stream, than along. It con- 
cerneth likewise the health of the plantation that 
they have good store of salt with them, that they 
may use it in their victuals when it shall be ne- 
cessary. If you plant where savages are, do not 


only entertain them with trifles and gingles, but use 
them justly and graciously, with sufficient guard 
nevertheless ; and do not win their favour by help- 
ing them to invade their enemies, but for their de- 
fence it is not amiss ; and send oft of them over to 
the country that plants, that they may see a better 
condition than their own, and commend it when 
they return. When the plantation grows to strength, 
then it is time to plant with women as well as with 
men ; that the plantation may spread into genera- 
tions, and not be ever pieced from without. It is 
the sinfullest thing in the world to forsake or des- 
titute a plantation once in forwardness ; for, be- 
sides the dishonour, it is the guiltiness of blood of 
many commiserable persons. 


I CAN NOT call riches better than the baggage 
of virtue; the Roman word is better, "impedi- 
menta;" for as the baggage is to an army, so is 
riches to virtue ; it cannot be spared nor left be- 
hind, but it hindereth the march ; yea, and the care 
of it sometimes loseth or disturbeth the victory; of 
great riches there is no real use, except it be in the 
distribution ; the rest is but conceit ; so saith So- 
lomon, " Where much is, there are many to con- 
sume it ; and what hath the owner but the sight of 

128 ESSAYS. 

it with his eyes ? " The personal fruition in any 
man cannot reach to feel great riches : there is a 
custody of them ; or a power of dole and donative 
of them ; or a fame of them ; but no solid use to 
the owner. Do you not see what feigned prices 
are set upon little stones and rarities? and what 
works of ostentation are undertaken, because there 
might seem to be some use of great riches ? But 
then you will say, they may be of use to buy men out 
of dangers or troubles; as Solomon saith, " Riches 
are as a strong hold in the imagination of the rich 
man;" but this is excellently expressed, that it is 
in imagination, and not always in fact : for, cer- 
tainly, great riches have sold more men than they 
have bought out. Seek not proud riches, but such 
as thou mayest get justly, use soberly, distribute 
cheerfully, and leave contentedly ; yet have no ab- 
stract or friarly contempt of them ; but distinguish, 
as Cicero saith well of Rabirius Posthumus, " In 
studio rei amplificandee apparebat, non avaritise prae- 
dam, sed instrumentum bonitati quseri." Hearken 
also to Solomon, and beware of hasty gathering of 
riches; "Qui festinat ad divitias, non erit insons.' , 
The poets feign, that when Plutus (which is riches) 
is sent from Jupiter, he limps, and goes slowly ; 
but when he is sent from Pluto, he runs, and is 
swift of foot ; meaning, that riches gotten by good 
means and just labour pace slowly ; but when they 
come by the death of others (as by the course of 
inheritance, testaments, and the like), they come 


tumbling upon a man : but it might be applied like- 
wise to Pluto, taking him for the devil : for when 
riches come from the devil (as by fraud and oppres- 
sion, and unjust means), they come upon speed. 
The ways to enrich are many, and most of them 
foul : parsimony is one of the best, and yet is not 
innocent ; for it withholdeth men from works of 
liberality and charity. The improvement of the 
ground is the most natural obtaining of riches ; for 
it is our great mother's blessing, the earth's ; but 
it is slow ; and yet, where men of great wealth do 
stoop to husbandry, it multiplieth riches exceed- 
ingly. 1 knew a nobleman in England that had 
the greatest audits of any man in my time, a great 
grazier, a great sheep master, a great timber man, 
a great collier, a great corn master, a great lead 
man, and so of iron, and a number of the like 
points of husbandry ; so as the earth seemed a sea 
to him in respect of the perpetual importation. It 
was truly observed by one, " That himself came 
very hardly to a little riches, and very easily to 
great riches ; " for when a man's stock is come to 
that, that he can expect the prime of markets, and 
overcome those bargains, which for their greatness 
are few men's money, and be partner in the in- 
dustries of younger men, he cannot but increase 
mainly. The gains of ordinary trades and vocations 
are honest, and furthered by two things, chiefly, 
by diligence, and by a good name for good and 
fair dealing ; but the gains of bargains are of a 


130 ESSAYS. 

more doubtful nature, when men shall wait upon 
others' necessity : broke by servants and instruments 
to draw them on; put off others cunningly that 
would be better chapmen, and the like practices, 
which are crafty and naughty ; as for the chopping 
of bargains, when a man buys not to hold, but to 
sell over again, that commonly grindeth double, 
both upon the seller and upon the buyer. Sharings 
do greatly enrich, if the hands be well chosen that 
are trusted. Usury is the certainest means of gain, 
though one of the worst, as that whereby a man 
doth eat his bread, "in sudore vultiis alieni;" and 
besides, doth plough upon Sundays: but yet cer- 
tain though it be, it hath flaws ; for that the scri- 
veners and brokers do value unsound men to serve 
their own turn. The fortune, in being the first in 
an invention, or in a privilege, doth cause some- 
times a wonderful overgrowth in riches, as it was 
with the first sugar man in the Canaries : there- 
fore, if a man can play the true logician, to have 
as well judgment as invention, he may do great 
matters, especially if the times be fit: he that rest- 
eth upon gains certain, shall hardly grow to great 
riches ; and he that puts all upon adventures, doth 
oftentimes break and come to poverty : it is good, 
therefore, to guard adventures with certainties that 
may uphold losses. Monopolies, and coemption of 
wares for re-sale, where they are not restrained, 
are great means to enrich ; especially if the party 
have intelligence what things are like to come into 


request, and so store himself beforehand. Riches 
gotten by service, though it be of the best rise, yet 
when they are gotten by flattery, feeding humours, 
and other servile conditions, they may be placed 
amongst the worst. As for fishing for testaments 
and executorships (as Tacitus saith of Seneca, " Tes- 
tamenta et orbos tamquam indagine capi,") it is yet 
•worse, by how much men submit themselves to 
meaner persons than in service. Believe not much 
them, that seem to despise riches, for they despise 
them that despair of them ; and none worse when 
they come to them. Be not penny-wise ; riches 
have wings, and sometimes they fly away of them- 
selves, sometimes they must be set flying to bring 
in more. Men leave their riches either to their 
kindred, or to the public ; and moderate portions 
prosper best in both. A great state left to an heir, 
is as a lure to all the birds of prey round about to 
seize on him, if he be not the better established in 
years and judgment: likewise, glorious gifts and 
foundations are like sacrifices without salt; and but 
the painted sepulchres of alms, which soon will 
putrefy and corrupt inwardly : therefore measure 
not thine advancements by quantity, but frame them 
by measure : and defer not charities till death ; for, 
certainly, if a man weigh it rightly, he that doth 
so is rather liberal of another man's than of his 


] 32 ESSAYS. 


I ME AN not to speak of divine prophecies, nor 
of heathen oracles, nor of natural predictions ; 
but only of prophecies that have been of certain 
memory, and from hidden causes. Saith the Py- 
thonissa to Saul, " To-morrow thou and thy son 
shall be with me." Virgil hath these verses from 
Homer : 

" Hie domus iEneae cunctis dominabitur oris, 
Et nati natorum, et qui nascentur ab illis. " 

A prophecy as it seems of the Roman empire. Se- 
neca the tragedian hath these verses : 

" Venient annis 

Saecula seris, quibus Oceanus 
Vincula rerum laxet, et ingens 
Pateat Tellus, Tiphysque novos 
Detegat orbes ; nee sit terris 
Ultima Thule:" 

a prophecy of the discovery of America. The 
daughter of Polycrates dreamed that Jupiter bathed 
her father, and Apollo anointed him ; and it came 
to pass that he was crucified in an open place, where 
the sun made his body run with sweat, and the rain 
washed it. Philip of Macedon dreamed he sealed 
up his wife's belly; whereby he did expound it, that 
his wife should be barren ; but Aristander the sooth- 


sayer told him his wife was with child, because men 
do not use to seal vessels that are empty. A phan- 
tasm that appeared to M. Brutus in his tent, said 
to him, " Philippis iterum me videbis." Tiberius 
said to Galba, "Tu quoque, Galba, degustabis im- 
perium.' , In Vespasian's time there went a pro- 
phecy in the East, that those that should come forth 
of Judea, should reign over the world ; which though 
it may be was meant of our Saviour, yet Tacitus 
expounds it of Vespasian. Domitian dreamed, the 
night before he was slain, that a golden head was 
growing out of the nape of his neck ; and indeed 
the succession that followed him, for many years, 
made golden times. Henry the Sixth of England 
said of Henry the Seventh, when he was a lad, and 
gave him water, " This is the lad that shall enjoy 
the crown for which we strive." When I was in 
France, I heard from one Dr. Pena, that the queen 
mother, who was given to curious arts, caused the 
king her husband's nativity to be calculated under 
a false name ; and the astrologer gave a judgment, 
that he should be killed in a duel ; at which the 
queen laughed, thinking her husband to be above 
challenges and duels : but he was slain upon a course 
at tilt, the splinters of the staff of Montgomery 
going in at his beaver. The trivial prophecy which 
I heard when I was a child, and queen Elizabeth 
was in the flower of her years, was, 

" When hempe is sponne 
England's done :" 

134 ESSAYS. 

whereby it was generally conceived, that after the 
princes had reigned which had the principal letters 
of that word hempe (which were Henry, Edward, 
Mary, Philip, and Elizabeth), England should come 
to utter confusion ; which, thanks be to God, is ve- 
rified only in the change of the name ; for that the 
king's style is now no more of England but of Bri- 
tain. There was also another prophecy before the 
year of eighty-eight, which I do not well under- 

" There shall be seen upon a day, 
Between the Baugh and the May, 
The black fleet of Norway. 
When that that is come and gone, 
England build houses of lime and stone, 
For after wars shall you have none." 

It was generally conceived to be meant of the Spa- 
nish fleet that came in eighty-eight : for that the 
king of Spain's surname, as they say, is Norway. 
The prediction of Regiomontanus, 

" Octogesimus octavus mirabilis annus," 
was thought likewise accomplished in the sending 
of that great fleet, being the greatest in strength, 
though not in number of all that ever swam upon 
the sea. As for Cleon's dream, I think it was a 
jest ; it was, that he was devoured of a long dra- 
gon ; and it was expounded of a maker of sausages, 
that troubled him exceedingly. There are num- 
bers of the like kind; especially if you include 
dreams, and predictions of astrology ; but I have 


set down these few only of certain credit, for ex- 
ample. My judgment is, that they ought all to be 
despised, and ought to serve but for winter talk by 
the fireside : though when I say despised, 1 mean 
it as for belief; for otherwise, the spreading or 
publishing of them is in no sort to be despised, for 
they have done much mischief; and I see many 
severe laws made to suppress them. That that 
hath given them grace, and some credit, consisteth 
in three things. First, that men mark when they 
hit, and never mark when they miss ; as they do, 
generally, also of dreams. The second 'is, that 
probable conjectures, or obscure traditions, many 
times turn themselves into prophecies ; while the 
nature of man, which coveteth divination, thinks it 
no peril to foretell that which indeed they do but 
collect : as that of Seneca's verse ; for so much was 
then subject to demonstration, that the globe of the 
earth had great parts beyond the Atlantic, which 
might be probably conceived not to be all sea : and 
adding thereto the tradition in Plato's Timaeus, and 
his Atlanticus, it might encourage one to turn it 
to a prediction. The third and last (which is the 
great one), is, that almost all of them, being infinite 
in number, have been impostures, and by idle and 
crafty brains, merely contrived and feigned, after 
the event past. 

1 36 ESSAYS. 


AMBITION is like choler, which is a humour 
that maketh men active, earnest, full of ala- 
crity, and stirring, if it be not stopped : but if it 
be stopped, and cannot have its way, it becometh 
adust, and thereby malign and venomous : so am- 
bitious men, if they find the way open for their 
rising, and still get forward, they are rather busy 
than dangerous ; but if they be checked in their 
desires, they become secretly discontent, and look 
upon men and matters with an evil eye, and are 
best pleased when things go backward ; which is the 
worst property in a servant of a prince or state : 
therefore it is good for princes, if they use ambiti- 
ous men, to handle it so, as they be still progressive, 
and not retrograde, which, because it cannot be 
without inconvenience, it is good not to use such 
natures at all ; for if they rise not with their ser- 
vice, they will take order to make their service fall 
with them. But since we have said, it were good 
not to use men of ambitious natures, except it be 
upon necessity, it is fit we speak in what cases they 
are of necessity. Good commanders in the wars 
must be taken, be they never so ambitious ; for the 
use of their service dispenseth with the rest ; and 
to take a soldier without ambition, is to pull off his 


spurs. There is also great use of ambitious men 
in being screens to princes in matters of danger and 
envy ; for no man will take thjat part except he be 
like a seeled dove, that mounts and mounts, because 
he cannot see about him. There is use also of am- 
bitious men in pulling" down the greatness of any- 
subject that overtops ; as Tiberius used Macro in 
the pulling down of Sejanus. Since, therefore, 
they must be used in such cases, there resteth to 
speak how they are to be bridled, that they may be 
less dangerous : there is less danger of them if they 
be of mean birth, than if they be noble; and if they 
be rather harsh of nature, than gracious and popu- 
lar : and if they be rather new raised, than grown 
cunning and fortified in their greatness. It is 
counted by some a weakness in princes to have 
favourites ; but it is, of all others, the best remedy 
against ambitious great ones ; for when the way of 
pleasuring and displeasuring lieth by the favourite, 
it is impossible any other should be over great. 
Another means to curb them is, to balance them by 
others as proud as they : but then there must be 
some middle counsellors, to keep things steady ; for 
without that ballast the ship will roll too much. At 
the least, a prince may animate and inure some 
meaner persons to be, as it were, scourges to ambi- 
tious men. As for the having of them obnoxious 
to ruin, if they be of fearful natures, it may do well ; 
but if they be stout and daring, it may precipitate 
their designs, and prove dangerous. As for the 

138 ESSAYS. 

pulling of them down, if the affairs require it, and 
that it may not be done with safety suddenly, the 
only way is, the interchange continually of favours 
and disgraces, whereby they may not know what 
to expect, and be, as it were, in a wood. Of am- 
bitions, it is less harmful the ambition to prevail in 
great things, than that other to appear in every 
thing; for that breeds confusion, and mars business : 
but yet, it is less danger to have an ambitious man 
stirring in business, than great in dependences. He 
that seeketh to be eminent amongst able men, hath a 
great task ; but that is ever good for the public : but 
he that plots to be the only figure amongst ciphers, 
is the decay of a whole age. Honour hath three 
things in it ; the vantage ground to do good ; the 
approach to kings and principal persons ; and the 
raising of a man's own fortunes. He that hath the 
best of these intentions, when he aspire th, is an ho- 
nest man : and that prince that can discern of these 
intentions in another that aspire th, is a wise prince. 
Generally, let princes and states choose such mi- 
nisters as are more sensible of duty than of rising, 
and such as love business rather upon conscience 
than upon bravery; and let them discern a busy 
nature, from a willing mind. 



THESE things are but toys to come amongst 
such serious observations; but yet, since 
princes will have such things, it is better they 
should be graced with elegancy, than daubed with 
cost. Dancing to song*, is a thing* of great state 
and pleasure. I understand it that the song be 
in quire, placed aloft, and accompanied with some 
broken music ; and the ditty fitted to the device. 
Acting* in song*, especially in dialogues, hath an 
extreme good grace ; I say acting, not dancing 
(for that is a mean and vulgar thing) ; and the 
voices of the dialogue would be strong and manly, 
(a base and a tenor, no treble,) and the ditty 
high and tragical, not nice or dainty. Several 
quires placed one over against another, and taking 
the voice by catches anthem-wise, give great 
pleasure. Turning dances into figure is a childish 
curiosity ; and generally let it be noted, that those 
things which I here set down are such as do natu- 
rally take the sense, and not respect petty wonder- 
ments. It is true, the alterations of scenes, so it 
be quietly and without noise, are things of great 
beauty and pleasure ; for they feed and relieve the 
eye before it be full of the same object. Let the 
scenes abound with light, especially coloured and 

140 ESSAYS. 

varied ; and let the masquers, or any other that 
are to come down from the scene, have some mo- 
tions upon the scene itself before their coming 
down ; for it draws the eye strangely, and makes 
it with great pleasure to desire to see that, it can- 
not perfectly discern. Let the songs be loud and 
cheerful, and not chirpings or pulings : let the 
music likewise be sharp and loud, and well placed. 
The colours that shew best by candle-light, are 
white, carnation, and a kind of sea-water green ; 
and ouches, or spangs, as they are of no great 
cost, so they are of most glory. As for rich em- 
broidery, it is lost and not discerned. Let the suits 
of the masquers be graceful, and such as become 
the person when the vizards are off; not after 
examples of known attires ; Turks, soldiers, ma- 
riners, and the like. Let anti-masques not be 
long; they have been commonly of fools, satyrs, 
baboons, wild men, antics, beasts, spirits, witches, 
Ethiopes, pigmies, turquets, nymphs, rustics, Cu- 
pids, statues moving, and the like. As for angels, 
it is not comical enough to put them in anti- 
masques : and any thing that is hideous, as devils, 
giants, is, on the other side, as unfit ; but chiefly, 
let the music of them be recreative, and with 
some strange changes. Some sweet odours sud- 
denly coming forth, without any drops falling, are, 
in such a company as there is steam and heat, 
things of great pleasure and refreshment. Double 
masques, one of men, another of ladies, addeth 


state and variety; but all is nothing, except the 
room be kept clean and neat. 

For justs, and tourneys, and barriers, the glories 
of them are chiefly in the chariots, wherein the 
challengers make their entry ; especially if they 
be drawn with strange beasts : as lions, bears, 
camels, and the like; or in the devices of their 
entrance, or in bravery of their liveries, or in the 
goodly furniture of their horses and armour. But 
enough of these toys. 


NATURE is often hidden, sometimes over- 
come, seldom extinguished. Force maketh 
nature more violent in the return; doctrine and 
discourse maketh nature less importune ; but cus- 
tom, only, doth alter and subdue nature. He that 
seeketh victory over his nature, let him not set 
himself too great nor too small tasks ; for the first 
will make him dejected by often failing, and the 
second will make him a small proceeder, though 
by often prevailing : and at the first, let him prac- 
tise with helps, as swimmers do with bladders, or 
rushes ; but, after a time, let him practise with 
disadvantages, as dancers do with thick shoes ; 
for it breeds great perfection, if the practice be 
harder than the use. Where nature is mighty, 

J 42 ESSA13, 

and therefore the victory hard, the degrees had 
need be, first to stay and arrest nature in time ; 
like to him that would say over the four and twenty 
letters when he was angry; then to go less in 
quantity: as if one should, in forbearing wine, 
come from drinking healths to a draught at a 
meal ; and lastly, to discontinue altogether : but 
if a man have the fortitude and resolution to en- 
franchise himself at once that is the best : 

" Optimus ille animi vindex laedentia pectus 
Vincula qui rupit, dedoluitque semel." 

Neither is the ancient rule amiss, to bend nature 
as a wand to a contrary extreme, whereby to set 
it right ; understanding it where the contrary ex- 
treme is no vice. Let not a man force a habit 
upon himself with a perpetual continuance, but 
with some intermission : for both the pause rein- 
forceth the new onset ; and, if a man that is not 
perfect be ever in practice he shall as well practise 
his errors as his abilities, and induce one habit of 
both ; and there is no means to help this but by 
seasonable intermissions ; but let not a man trust 
his victory over his nature too far ; for nature will 
lie buried a great time, and yet revive upon the 
occasion, or temptation ; like as it was with iEsop's 
damsel, turned from a cat to a woman, who sat 
very demurely at the board's end till a mouse ran 
before her : therefore, let a man either avoid the 
occasion altogether, or put himself often to it, 


that be may be little moved with it. A man's 
nature is best perceived in privateness ; for there 
is no affectation in passion ; for that putteth a man 
out of his precepts, and in a new case or experi- 
ment, for there custom leaveth him. They are 
happy men whose natures sort with their voca- 
tions ; otherwise they may say, " multum incola 
fuit anima mea," when they converse in those 
things they do not affect. In studies, whatsoever 
a man commandeth upon himself, let him set hours 
for it; but whatsoever is agreeable to his nature, 
let him take no care for any set times ; for his 
thoughts will fly to it of themselves, so as the 
spaces of other business or studies will suffice. A 
man's nature runs either to herbs or weeds ; there- 
fore let him seasonably water the one, and destroy 
the other. 


MEN'S thoughts are much according to their 
inclination ; their discourse and speeches 
according to their learning and infused opinions ; 
but their deeds are after as they have been accus- 
tomed : and, therefore, as Machiavel well noteth, 
(though in an evil-favoured instance,) there is no 
trusting to the force of nature, nor to the bravery 
of words, except it be corroborate by custom. His 
instance is, that for the achieving of a desperate 

144 ESfAYS. 

conspiracy, a man should not rest upon the fierce- 
ness of any man's n? „ure, or his resolute under- 
takings; but take sjch a one as hath had his 
hands formerly in b T ood ; but Machiavel knew not 
of a friar Clement, vior a Ravillac, nor a Jaureguy, 
nor a Baltazar Gerard ; yet his rule holdeth still, 
that nature, nor the engagement of words, are not 
so forcible as custom. Only superstition is now 
so well advanced, that men of the first blood are 
as firm as butchers by occupation ; and votary re- 
solution is made equipollent to custom even in 
matter of blood. In other things, the predomi- 
nancy of custom is every where visible, insomuch 
as a man would wonder to hear men profess, pro- 
test, engage, give great words, and then do just 
as they have done before, as if they were dead 
images and engines, moved only by the wheels of 
custom. We see also the reign or tyranny of 
custom, what it is. The Indians, (I mean the 
sect of their wise men,) lay themselves quietly 
upon a stack of wood, and so sacrifice themselves 
by fire : nay, the wives strive to be burned with 
the corpse of their husbands. The lads of Sparta, 
of ancient time, were wont to be scourged upon 
the altar of Diana, without so much as squeaking. 
I remember, in the beginning of queen Elizabeth's 
time of England, an Irish rebel condemned, put 
up a petition to the deputy that he might be 
hanged in a wyth, and not in a halter, because it 
had been so used with former rebels. There be 


monks in Russia for penance, that will sit a whole 
night in a vessel of water, till they be engaged 
with hard ice. Many examples may be put of the 
force of custom, both upon mind and body : there- 
fore i since custom is the principal magistrate of 
man's life, let men by all means endeavour to 
obtain good customs. Certainly, custom is most 
perfect when it beginneth in young years : this 
we call education, which is, in effect, but an early 
custom. So we see, in languages the tongue is 
more pliant to all expressions and sounds, the 
joints are more supple to all feats of activity and 
motions in youth, than afterwards ; for it is true, 
that late learners cannot so well take the ply, 
except it be in some minds that have not suffered 
themselves to fix, but have kept themselves open 
and prepared to receive continual amendment, 
which is exceeding rare : but if the force of cus- 
tom, simple and separate, be great, the force of 
custom, copulate and conjoined and collegiate, is 
far greater ; for their example teacheth, company 
comforteth, emulation quickeneth, glory raise th ; 
so as in such places the force of custom is in his 
exaltation. Certainly, the great multiplication of 
virtues upon human nature resteth upon societies 
well ordained and disciplined ; for commonwealths 
and good governments do nourish virtue grown, 
but do not much mend the seeds ; but the misery 
is, that the most effectual means are now applied 
to the ends least to be desired. 

146 ESSAYS. 


IT cannot be denied but outward accidents con- 
duce much to fortune ; favour, opportunity, 
death of others, occasion fitting virtue : but chiefly, 
the mould of a man's fortune is in his own hands : 
" Faber quisque fortunae suas," saith the poet; 
and the most frequent of external causes is, that 
the folly of one man is the fortune of another ; for 
no man prospers so suddenly as by others' errors. 
" Serpens nisi serpentem comederit non fit draco." 
Overt and apparent virtues bring forth praise ; but 
there be secret and hidden virtues that bring forth 
fortune ; certain deliveries of a man's self, which 
have no name. The Spanish name, " disembol- 
tura," partly expresseth them, when there be not 
stonds nor restiveness in a man's nature, but that 
the wheels of his mind keep way with the wheels 
of his fortune ; for so Livy (after he had described 
Cato Major in these words, " In illo viro, tantum 
robur corporis et animi fuit, ut quocunque loco 
natus esset, fortunam sibi facturus videretur,") 
falleth upon that that he had " versatile inge- 
nium :" therefore, if a man look sharply and atten- 
tively, he shall see Fortune ; for though she be 
blind, yet she is not invisible. The way of fortune 
is like the milky way in the sky ; which is a 


meeting, or knot, of a number of small stars, not 
seen asunder, but giving light together: so are 
there a number of little and scarce discerned vir- 
tues, or rather faculties and customs, that make 
men fortunate : the Italians note some of them, 
such as a man would little think. When they 
speak of one that cannot do amiss, they will throw 
in into his other conditions, that he hath " Poco 
di matto ;" and, certainly, there be not two more 
fortunate properties, than to have a little of the 
fool, and not too much of the honest : therefore 
extreme lovers of their country, or masters, were 
never fortunate : neither can they be ; for when 
a man placeth his thoughts without himself, he 
goeth not his own way. A hasty fortune maketh 
an enterpriser and remover ; (the French hath it 
better, " entreprenant," or "remuant;") but the 
exercised fortune maketh the able man. Fortune 
is to be honoured and respected, and it be but for 
her daughters, Confidence and Reputation; for 
those two Felicity breedeth ; the first within a 
man's self, the latter in others towards him. All 
wise men, to decline the envy of their own vir- 
tues, use to ascribe them to Providence and For- 
tune ; for so they may the better assume them : 
and, besides, it is greatness in a man to be the 
care of the higher powers. So Caesar said to the 
pilot in the tempest, M Caesarem portas, et fortunam 
ejus." So Sylla chose the name of " Felix," and 
not of " Magnus :" and it hath been noted, that 

148 ESSAYS. 

those who ascribe openly too much to their own 
wisdom and policy, end infortunate. It is written, 
that Timotheus, the Athenian, after he had, in the 
account he gave to the state of his government, 
often interlaced this speech, "and in this Fortune 
had no part," never prospered in anything he un- 
dertook afterwards. Certainly there be, whose for- 
tunes are like Homer's verses, that have a slide and 
easiness more than the verses of other poets ; as 
Plutarch saith of Timoleon's fortune in respect of 
that of Agesilaus or Epaminondas : and that this 
should be, no doubt it is much in a man's self. 


MANY have made witty invectives against 
usury. They say that it is pity the devil 
should have God's part, which is the tithe ; that 
the usurer is the greatest sabbath-breaker, because 
his plough goeth every Sunday ; that the usurer is 
the drone that Virgil speaketh of; 

" Ignavum fucos pecus a praesepibus arcent;" 

that the usurer breaketh the first law that was made 
for mankind after the fall, which was, " in sudore 
vultus tui comedes panem tuum;" not, "in sudore 
vultus alieni;" that usurers should have orange 
tawny bonnets, because they do judaize ; that it is 

OF USURY. 149 

against nature for money to beget money, and the 
like. I say this only, that usury is a "concessum 
propter duritiem cordis: " for since there must be 
borrowing and lending, and men are so hard of 
heart as they will not lend freely, usury must be 
permitted. Some others have made suspicious and 
cunning propositions of banks, discovery of men's 
estates, and other inventions ; but few have spoken 
of usury usefully. It is good to set before us the 
incommodities and commodities of usury, that the 
good may be either weighed out, or culled out ; and 
warily to provide, that, while we make forth to that 
which is better, we meet not with that which is 

The discommodities of usury are, first, that it 
makes fewer merchants ; for were it not for this 
lazy trade of usury, money would not lie still, but 
would in great part be employed upon merchandiz- 
ing, w T hich is the " vena porta" of wealth in a state : 
the second, that it makes poor merchants ; for as 
a farmer cannot husband his ground so well if he 
sit at a great rent, so the merchant cannot drive his 
trade so well, if he sit at great usury: the third is 
incident to the other two ; and that is, the decay 
of customs of kings, or states, which ebb or flow 
with merchandizing : the fourth, that it bringeth 
the treasure of a realm or state into a few hands ; 
for the usurer being at certainties, and others at 
uncertainties, at the end of the game most of the 
money will be in the box ; and ever a state flourish- 

150 ESSAYS. 

eth when wealth is more equally spread: the fifth, 
that it beats down the price of land ; for the em- 
ployment of money is chiefly either merchandizing, 
or purchasing, and usury waylays both: the .sixth, 
that it doth dull and damp all industries, improve- 
ments, and new inventions, wherein money would 
be stirring, if it were not for this slug : the last, 
that it is the canker and ruin of many men's estates, 
which in process of time breeds a public poverty. 
On the other side the commodities of usury are, 
first, that howsoever usury in some respect hinder- 
eth merchandizing, yet in some other it advanceth 
it ; for it is certain that the greatest part of trade 
is driven by young merchants upon borrowing at 
interest; so as if the usurer either call in, or keep 
back his money, there will ensue presently a great 
stand of trade: the second is, that, were it not for 
this easy borrowing upon interest, men's necessities 
would draw upon them a most sudden undoing, in 
that they would be forced to sell their means, (be 
it lands or goods), far under foot, and so, whereas 
usury doth but gnaw upon them, bad markets would 
swallow them quite up. As for mortgaging or pawn- 
ing, it will little mend the matter: for either men 
will not take pawns without use, or if they do, they 
will look precisely for the forfeiture. I remember 
a cruel monied man in the country, that would say, 
" The devil take this usury, it keeps us from for- 
feitures of mortgages and bonds." The third and 
last is, that it is a vanity to conceive that there 

OF USURY. 151 

would be ordinary borrowing without profit; and 
it is impossible to conceive the number of inconve- 
niences that will ensue, if borrowing* be cramped: 
therefore to speak of the abolishing of usury is idle ; 
all states have ever had it in one kind or. rate or 
other: so as that opinion must be sent to Utopia. 

To speak now of the reformation and reglement 
of usury, how the discommodities of it may be best 
avoided, and the commodities retained. It appears, 
by the balance of commodities and discommodities 
of usury, two things are to be reconciled; the one 
that the tooth of usury be grinded, that it bite not 
too much ; the other that there be left open a means 
to invite monied men to lend to the merchants, for 
the continuing and quickening of trade. This can- 
not be done, except you introduce two several sorts 
of usury, a less and a greater ; for if you reduce 
usury to one, low rate, it will ease the common bor- 
rower, but the merchant will be to seek for money : 
and it is to be noted, that the trade of merchandize 
being the most lucrative, may bear usury at a good 
rate : other contracts not so. 

To serve both intentions, the way would be 
briefly thus; that there be two rates of usury; the 
one free and general for all ; the other under license 
only to certain persons, and in certain places of 
merchandizing. First, therefore, let usury in ge- 
neral be reduced to five in the hundred, and let that 
rate be proclaimed to be free and current ; and let 
the state shut itself out to take any penalty for the 

152 ESSAYS. 

same ; this will preserve borrowing from any gene- I 
ral stop or dryness ; this will ease infinite borrowers I 
in the country ; this will, in good part, raise the } 
price of land, because land purchased at sixteen 
years' purchase will yield six in the hundred, and 
somewhat more, whereas this rate of interest yields 
but five : this by like reason will encourage and 
edge industrious and profitable improvements, be- 
cause many will rather venture in that kind, than 
take five in the hundred, especially having been 
used to greater profit. Secondly, let there be cer- 
tain persons licensed to lend to known merchants 
upon usury, at a higher rate, and let it be with the 
cautions following : let the rate be, even with the 
merchant himself, somewhat more easy than that 
he used formerly to pay; for by that means all 
borrowers shall have some ease by this reformation, 
be he merchant, or whosoever; let it be no bank, 
or common stock, but every man be master of his 
own money ; not that I altogether dislike banks, 
but they will hardly be brooked, in regard of cer- 
tain suspicions. Let the state be answered, some 
small matter for the license, and the rest left to the 
lender ; for if the abatement be but small, it will 
no whit discourage the lender; for he, for example, 
that took before, ten or nine in the hundred, will 
sooner descend to eight in the hundred, than give 
over his trade of usury, and go from certain gains 
to gains of hazard. Let these licensed lenders be 
in number indefinite, bat restrained to certain prin- 

OF USURY. 153 

cipal cities and towns of merchandizing ; for then 
they will be hardly able to colour other men's mo- 
nies in the country : so as the license of nine will 
not suck away the current rate of five ; for no man 
will lend his monies far off, nor put them into un- 
known hands. 

If it be objected that this doth in a sort authorize 
usury, which before was in some places but per- 
missive ; the answer is, that it is better to mitigate 
usury by declaration, than to suffer it to rage by 


A MAN that is young in years may be old in 
hours, if he have lost no time; but that hap- 
peneth rarely. Generally, youth is like the first 
cogitations, not so wise as the second : for there 
is a youth in thoughts, as well as in ages ; and yet 
the invention of young men is more lively than 
that of old, and imaginations stream into their minds 
better, and, as it were, more divinely. Natures that 
have much heat, and great and violent desires and 
perturbations, are not ripe for action till they have 
passed the meridian of their years : as it was with 
Julius Cassar and Septimius Severus ; of the latter 
of whom it is said, " Juventutem egit, erroribus, 
imo furoribus plenam ; " and yet he was the ablest 



emperor, almost, of all the list : but reposed na- 
tures may do well in youth, as it is seen in Augustus 
Caesar, Cosmus, duke of Florence, Gaston de Foix, 
and others. On the other side, heat and vivacity 
in age is an excellent composition for business. 
Young men are fitter to invent than to judge ; fitter 
for execution than for counsel ; and fitter for new 
projects than for settled business ; for the experi- 
ence of age, in things that fall within the compass 
of it, directeth them : but in new things abuseth 
them. The errors of young men are the ruin of 
business ; but the errors of aged men amount but 
to this, that more might have been done, or sooner. 
Young men, in the conduct and manage of actions, 
embrace more than they can hold ; stir more than 
they can quiet ; fly to the end without considera- 
tion of the means and degrees ; pursue some few 
principles which they have chanced upon absurdly ; 
care not to innovate, which draws unknown incon- 
veniences ; use extreme remedies at first; and that, 
which doubleth all errors, will not acknowledge or 
retract them, like an unready horse, that will neither 
stop nor turn. Men of age object too much, con- 
sult too long, adventure too little, repent too soon, 
and seldom drive business home to the full period, 
but content themselves with a mediocrity of suc- 
cess. Certainly it is good to compound employ- 
ments of both ; for that will be good for the present^ 
because the virtues of either age may correct the 
defects of both ; and good for succession, that young 


men may be learners, while men in age are actors; 
and, lastly, good for external accidents, because 
authority followeth old men, and favour and popu- 
larity youth : but, for the moral part, perhaps, youth 
will have the pre-eminence, as age hath for the po- 
litic. A certain rabbin upon the text, " Your young 
men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream 
dreams, " inferreth that young men are admitted 
nearer to God than old, because vision is a clearer 
revelation than a dream : and, certainly, the more 
a man drinketh of the world, the more it intoxi- 
cateth : and age doth profit rather in the powers of 
understanding, than in the virtues of the will and 
affections. There be some have an over-early ripe- 
ness in their years, which fadeth betimes : these are, 
first, such as have brittle wits, the edge whereof is 
soon turned : such as was Hermogenes the rhe- 
torician, whose books are exceeding subtle, who 
afterwards waxed stupid : a second sort is of those 
that have some natural dispositions, which have 
better grace in youth than in age ; such as is a 
fluent and luxuriant speech ; which becomes youth 
well, but not age: so Tully saith of Hortensius, 
r Idem manebat, neque idem decebat;" the third 
is of such as take too high a strain at the first, and 
are magnanimous more than tract of years can up- 
hold ; as with Scipio Africanus, of whom Livy saith 
in effect, " Ultima primis cedebant." 

156 ESSAYS. 


VIRTUE is like a rich stone, best plain set ; 
and surely virtue is best in a body that is 
comely, though not of delicate features ; and that 
hath rather dignity of presence, than beauty of 
aspect; neither is it almost seen, that very beau- 
tiful persons are otherwise of great virtue ; as if 
nature were rather busy not to err, than in labour 
to produce excellency ; and therefore they prove 
accomplished, but not of great spirit ; and study 
rather behaviour, than virtue. But this holds not 
always : for Augustus Caesar, Titus Vespasianus, 
Philip le Belle of France, Edward the Fourth of 
England, Alcibiades of Athens, Ismael, the sophy 
of Persia, were all high and great spirits, and yet 
the most beautiful men of their times. In beauty, 
that of favour, is more than that of colour ; and 
that of decent and gracious motion, more than that 
of favour. That is the best part of beauty, which 
a picture cannot express; no, nor the first sight of 
the life. There is no excellent beauty that hath 
not some strangeness in the proportion. A man 
cannot tell whether Apelles or Albert Durer were 
the more trifler; whereof the one would make a 
personage by geometrical proportions : the other, 
by taking the best parts out of divers faces to make 


one excellent. Such personages, I think, would 
please nobody but the painter that made them : not 
but I think a painter may make a better face than 
ever was ; but he must do it by a kind of felicity, 
(as a musician that maketh an excellent air in mu- 
sic) and not by rule. A man shall see faces, that, 
if you examine them part by part, you shall find 
never a good ; and yet altogether do well. If it 
be true that the principal part of beauty is in de- 
cent motion, certainly it is no marvel, though per- 
sons in years seem many times more amiable ; 
" pulchrorum autumnus pulcher ;" for no youth can 
be comely but by pardon, and considering the youth 
as to make up the comeliness. Beauty is as sum- 
mer fruits, which are easy to corrupt and cannot 
last ; and, for the most part, it makes a dissolute 
youth, and an age a little out of countenance ; but 
yet certainly again, if it light well, it maketh vir- 
tues shine, and vices blush. 


DEFORMED persons are commonly even with 
nature ; for as nature hath done ill by them, 
so do they by nature, being for the most part, (as 
the Scripture saith) " void of natural affection;" and 
so they have their revenge of nature. Certainly 
there is a consent between the body and the mind, 

158 ESSAYS. 

and where nature erreth in the one, she ventureth 
in the other: " Ubi peccat in uno, periclitatur in 
altero :" but because there is in man an election, 
touching the frame of his mind, and a necessity in 
the frame of his body, the stars of natural inclina- 
tion, are sometimes obscured by the sun of discipline 
and virtue ; therefore it is good to consider of de- 
formity, not as a sign which is more deceivable, 
but as a cause which seldom faileth of the effect. 
Whosoever hath any thing fixed in his person that 
doth induce contempt, hath also a perpetual spur in 
himself to rescue and deliver himself from scorn ; 
therefore, all deformed persons are extreme bold ; 
first, as in their own defence, as being exposed to 
scorn, but in process of time by a general habit. 
Also it stirreth in them industry, and especially 
of this kind, to watch and observe the weakness 
of others, that they may have somewhat to repay. 
Again, in their superiors, it quencheth jealousy 
towards them, as persons that they think they may 
at pleasure despise : and it layeth their competitors 
and emulators asleep, as never believing they should 
be in possibility of advancement till they see them in 
possession : so that upon the matter, in a great wit, 
deformity is an advantage to rising. Kings, in an- 
cient times, (and at this present in some countries) 
were wont to put great trust in eunuchs, because 
they that are envious towards all are more obnox- 
ious and officious towards one ; but yet their trust 
towards them hath rather been as to good spials, 


and good whisperers, than good magistrates and 
officers : and much like is the reason of deformed 
persons. Still the ground is, they will, if they be 
of spirit, seek to free themselves from scorn ; 
which must be either by virtue or malice ; and, 
therefore, let it not be marvelled, if sometimes they 
prove excellent persons ; as was Agesilaus, Zanger 
the son of Solyman, iEsop, Gasca, president of 
Peru ; and Socrates may go likewise amongst 
them, with others. 


HOUSES are built to live in, and not to look 
on ; therefore let use be preferred before 
uniformity, except where both may be had. Leave 
the goodly fabrics of houses, for beauty only, to 
the enchanted palaces of the poets, who build them 
with small cost. He that builds a fair house upon 
an ill seat, committeth himself to prison ; neither 
do I reckon it an ill seat only where the air is un- 
wholesome, but likewise where the air is unequal ; 
as you shall see many fine seats set upon a knap of 
ground, environed with higher hills round about it, 
whereby the heat of the sun is pent in, and the 
wind gathereth as in troughs ; so as you shall have, 
and that suddenly, as great diversity of heat and 
cold as if you dwelt in several places. Neither is 

160 ESSAYS. 

it ill air only that maketh an ill seat ; but ill ways, 
ill markets ; and, if you will consult with Momus, 
ill neighbours. I speak not of many more ; want 
of water, want of wood, shade, and shelter, want 
of fruitfulness, and mixture of grounds of several 
natures; want of prospect, want of level grounds, 
want of places at some near distance for sports of 
hunting, hawking, and races ; too near the sea, 
too remote; having the commodity of navigable 
rivers, or the discommodity of their overflowing ; 
too far off from great cities, which may hinder 
business; or too near them, which lurcheth all 
provisions, and maketh every thing dear; where 
a man hath a great living laid together ; and where 
he is scanted ; all which, as it is impossible per- 
haps to find together, so it is good to know them, 
and think of them, that a man may take as many 
as he can ; and, if he have several dwellings, that 
he sort them so, that what he wanteth in the one 
he may find in the other. Lucullus answered 
Pompey well, who, when he saw his stately gal- 
leries and rooms so large and lightsome, in one of 
his houses, said, " Surely an excellent place for 
summer, but how do you in winter V 9 Lucullus 
answered, " Why do you not think me as wise as 
some fowls are, that ever change their abode to- 
wards the winter VI 

To pass from the seat to the house itself, we 
will do as Cicero doth in the orator's art, who 
writes books de Oratore, and a book he entitles 


Orator ; whereof the former delivers the precepts 
of the art, and the latter the perfection. We will 
therefore describe a princely palace, making a 
brief model thereof; for it is strange to see, now 
in Europe, such huge buildings as the Vatican 
and Escurial, and some others be, and yet scarce 
a very fair room in them. 

First, therefore, I say, you cannot have a per- 
fect palace, except you have two several sides ; a 
side for the banquet, as is spoken of in the book 
of Esther, and a side for the household ; the one 
for feasts and triumphs, and the other for dwelling, 
I understand both these sides to be not only re- 
turns, but parts of the front; and to be uniform 
without, though severally partitioned within ; and 
to be on both sides of a great and stately tower in 
the midst of the front, that, as it were, joineth 
them together on either hand. I would have, on 
the side of the banquet in front, one only goodly 
room above stairs, of some forty foot high; and 
under it a room for a dressing or preparing place, 
at times of triumphs. On the other side, which 
is the household side, I wish it divided at the first 
into a hall and a chapel, (with a partition between,) 
both of good state and bigness ; and those not to 
go all the length, but to have at the further end a 
winter and a summer parlour, both fair ; and under 
these rooms a fair and large cellar sunk under 
ground; and likewise some privy kitchens, with 
butteries and pantries, and the like. As for the 


162 ESSAYS. 

tower, I would have it two stories, of eighteen 
foot high a piece above the two wings ; and a 
goodly leads upon the top, railed with statues in- 
terposed; and the same tower to be divided into 
rooms, as shall be thought fit. The stairs like- 
wise to the upper rooms, let them be upon a fair 
open newel, and finely railed in with images of 
wood cast into a brass colour; and a very fair 
landing-place at the top. But this to be, if you 
do not point any of the lower rooms for a dining 
place of servants ; for, otherwise, you shall have 
the servants' dinner after your own : for the steam 
of it will come up as in a tunnel ; and so much 
for the front : only I understand the height of the 
first stairs to be sixteen foot, which is the height 
of the lower room. 

Beyond this front is there to be a fair court, 
but three sides of it of a far lower building than 
the front ; and in all the four corners of that court 
fair stair-cases, cast into turrets on the outside, 
and not within the row of buildings themselves : 
but those towers are not to be of the height of 
the front, but rather proportionable to the lower 
building. Let the court not be paved, for that 
striketh up a great heat in summer, and much 
cold in winter : but only some side alleys with a 
cross, and the quarters to graze, being kept shorn, 
but not too near shorn. The row of return on the 
banquet side, let it be all stately galleries : in 
which galleries let there be three or five fine 


cupolas in the length of it, placed at equal dis- 
tance, and fine coloured windows of several works : 
on the household side, chambers of presence and 
ordinary entertainments, with some bed-chambers : 
and let all three sides be a double house, without 
thorough lights on the sides, that you may have 
rooms from the sun, both for forenoon and after- 
noon. Cast it also, that you may have rooms 
both for summer and winter; shady for summer, 
and warm for winter. You shall have sometimes 
fair houses so full of glass, that one cannot tell 
where to become to be out of the sun or cold. For 
inbowed windows, I hold them of good use ; (in 
cities, indeed, upright do better, in respect of the 
uniformity towards the street;) for they be pretty 
retiring places for conference ; and besides, they 
keep both the wind and sun off; for that which 
would strike almost thorough the room doth scarce 
pass the window : but let them be but few, four 
in the court, on the sides only. 

Beyond this court, let there be an inward court, 
of the same square and height, which is to be 
environed with the garden on all sides ; and in 
the inside, cloistered on all sides upon decent and 
beautiful arches, as high as the first story : on the 
under story, towards the garden, let it be turned 
to a grotto, or place of shade, or estivation; and 
only have opening and windows towards the gar- 
den, and be level upon the floor, no whit sunken 
under ground, to avoid all dampishness : and let 

1 64 ESSAYS. 

there be a fountain, or some fair work of statues 
in the midst of this court, and to be paved as the 
other court was. These buildings to be for privy 
lodgings on both sides, and the end for. privy gal- 
leries ; whereof you must foresee that one of them 
be for an infirmary, if the prince or any special 
person should be sick, with chambers, bed-chamber, 
" antecamera," and " recamera," joining to it; 
this upon the second story. Upon the ground 
story, a fair gallery, open, upon pillars ; and upon 
the third story, likewise an open gallery upon pil- 
lars, to take the prospect and freshness of the 
garden. At both corners of the further side, by 
way of return, let there be two delicate or rich 
cabinets, daintily paved, richly hanged, glazed 
with crystalline glass, and a rich cupola in the 
midst ; and all other elegancy that may be thought 
upon. In the upper gallery, too, I wish that 
there may be, if the place will yield it, some foun- 
tains running in divers places from the wall, with 
some fine avoidances. And thus much for the 
model of the palace; save that you must have, 
before you come to the front, three courts ; a 
green court plain, with a wall about it ; a second 
court of the same, but more garnished with little 
turrets, or rather embellishments, upon the wall ; 
and a third court, to make a square with the front, 
but not to be built, nor yet enclosed with a naked 
wall, but enclosed with terraces leaded aloft, and 
fairly garnished on the three sides ; and cloistered 


on the inside with pillars, and not with arches 
below. As for offices, let them stand at distance, 
with some low galleries to pass from them to the 
palace itself. 


GOD Almighty first planted a garden ; and, 
indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures ; 
it is the greatest refreshment to the spirits of 
man ; without which buildings and palaces are but 
gross handy- works : and a man shall ever see, 
that, when ages grow to civility and elegancy, 
men come to build stately, sooner than to garden 
finely ; as if gardening were the greater perfection. 
I do hold it in the royal ordering of gardens, there 
ought to be gardens for all the months in the 
year, in which, severally, things of beauty may 
be then in season. For December, and January, 
and the latter part of November, you must take 
such things as are green all winter : holly, ivy, 
bays, juniper, cypress-trees, yew, pine-apple-trees; 
fir-trees, rosemary, lavender ; periwinkle, the 
white, the purple, and the blue ; germander, flag, 
orange-trees, lemon-trees, and myrtles, if they be 
stoved ; and sweet marjoram, warm set. There 
followeth, for the latter part of January and Fe- 
bruary, the mezereon-tree, which then blossoms ; 

166 ESSAYS. 

crocus vermis, both the yellow and the grey; 
primroses, anemones, the early tulip, the hyacin- 
thus orientalis, chamairis fritellaria. For March, 
there come violets, especially the single blue, which 
are the earliest; the yellow daffodil, the daisy, the 
almond-tree in blossom, the peach-tree in blossom, 
the cornelian-tree in blossom, sweet-brier. In 
April follow the double white violet, the wall- 
flower, the stock-gilliflower, the cowslip, flower- 
de-luces, and lilies of all natures ; rosemary- 
flowers, the tulip, the double peony, the pale daf- 
fodil, the French honeysuckle, the cherry-tree in 
blossom, the damascene and plum-trees in blossom, 
the white thorn in leaf, the lilac-tree. In May 
and June come pinks of all sorts, especially the 
blush-pink ; roses of all kinds, except the musk, 
which comes later; honey-suckles, strawberries, 
bug-loss, columbine, the French marigold, flos Afri- 
canus, cherry-tree in fruit, ribes, figs in fruit, 
rasps, vine-flowers, lavender in flowers, the sweet 
satyrian, with the white flower ; herba muscaria, 
lilium convallium, the apple-tree in blossom. In 
July come gilliflowers of all varieties, musk-roses, 
the lime-tree in blossom, early pears, and plums, 
in fruit, genitings, codlins. In August come plums, 
of all sorts in fruit, pears, apricots, barberries, 
filberts, musk-melons, monks-hoods, of all colours. 
In September come grapes, apples, poppies of all 
colours, peaches, melocotones, nectarines, corne- 
lians, wardens, quinces. In October and the be- 


ginning of November come services, medlars, bul- 
laces, roses cut or removed to come late, hollyoaks, 
and such like. These particulars are for the cli- 
mate of London; but my meaning is perceived, that 
you may have "ver perpetuum," as the place af- 

And because the breath of flowers is far sweeter 
in the air, (where it comes and goes, like the warb- 
ling of music,) than in the hand, therefore nothing 
is more fit for that delight, than to know what be 
the flowers and plants that do best perfume the air. 
Roses, damask and red, are fast flowers of their 
smells ; so that you may walk by a whole row of 
them, and find nothing of their sweetness; yea, 
though it be in a morning's dew. Bays, likewise, 
yield no smell as they grow, rosemary little, nor 
sweet marjoram ; that which, above all others, yields 
the sweetest smell in the air, is the violet, espe- 
cially the white double violet, which comes twice 
a year, about the middle of April, and about Bar- 
tholomew-tide. Next to that is the musk-rose ; 
then the strawberry-leaves dying, with a most ex- 
cellent cordial smell; then the flower of the vines, 
it is a little dust like the dust of a bent, which grows 
upon the cluster in the first coming forth; then 
sweet-brier, then wall-flowers, which are very de- 
lightful to be set under a parlour or lower cham- 
ber window ; then pinks and gilliflowers, especially 
the matted pink and clove gilliflower; then the 
flowers of the lime-tree ; then the honeysuckles, 

168 ESSAYS. 

so they be somewhat afar off. Of bean-flowers I 1 J 
speak not, because they are field flowers ; but those | ( 
which perfume the air most delightfully, not passed ^ 2 
by as the rest, but being trodden upon and crushed, I i 
are three, that is, burnet, wild thyme, and water- i s 
mints ; therefore you are to set whole alleys of them, , 
to have the pleasure when you walk or tread. 

For gardens (speaking of those which are, in- | 
deed, prince-like, as we have done of buildings), 
the contents ought not well to be under thirty acres 
of ground, and to be divided into three parts ; a j 
green in the entrance, a heath, or desert, in the 
going forth, and the main garden in the midst, be- | 
sides alleys on both sides; and I like well, that four \ 
acres of ground be assigned to the green, six to the j 
heath, four and four to either side, and twelve to the 
main garden. The green hath two pleasures : the | 
one, because nothing is more pleasant to the eye j 
than green grass kept finely shorn; the other, be- | 
cause it will give you a fair alley in the midst, by 
which you may go in front upon a stately hedge, I 
which is to enclose the garden : but because the 
alley will be long, and, in great heat of the year, 
or day, you ought not to buy the shade in the gar- 
den by going in the sun through the green ; there- 
fore you are, of either side the green, to plant a 
covert alley, upon carpenter's work, about twelve 
foot in height, by which you may go in shade into 
the garden. As for the making of knots, or figures, 
with divers coloured earths, that they may lie un- 


der the windows of the house on that side which 
the garden stands, they be but toys ; you may see 
as good sights many times in tarts. The garden 
is best to be square, encompassed on all the four 
sides with a stately arched hedge ; the arches to be 
upon pillars of carpenter's work, of some ten foot 
high, and six foot broad, and the spaces between 
of the same dimension with the breadth of the arch. 
Over the arches let there be an entire hedge of 
some four foot high, framed also upon carpenter's 
work ; and upon the upper hedge, over every arch, a 
little turret, with a belly enough to receive a cage of 
birds : and over every space between the arches some 
other little figure, with broad plates of round co- 
loured glass gilt, for the sun to play upon : but this 
hedge I intend to be raised upon a bank, not steep, 
but gently slope, of some six foot, set all with 
flowers. Also I understand, that this square of the 
garden should not be the whole breadth of the 
ground, but to leave on either side ground enough 
for diversity of side alleys, unto which the two 
covert alleys of the green may deliver you ; but 
there must be no alleys with hedges at either end 
of this great enclosure ; not at the hither end, for 
letting your prospect upon this fair edge from the 
green ; nor at the further end, for letting your 
prospect from the hedge through the arches upon 
the heath. 

For the ordering of the ground within the great 
hedge, I leave it to variety of device ; advising, 

170 ESSAYS. 

nevertheless, that whatsoever form you cast it into 
first, it be not too busy, or full of work ; wherein 
I, for my part, do not like images cut out in juni- 
per or other garden stuff; they be for children. 
Little low hedges, round like welts, with some 
pretty pyramids, I like well ; and in some places 
fair columns, upon frames of carpenter's work. I 
would also have the alleys spacious and fair. You 
may have closer alleys upon the side grounds, but 
none in the main garden. I wish also, in the very 
middle, a fair mount, with three ascents and alleys, 
enough for four to walk abreast ; which I would 
have to be perfect circles, without any bulwarks or 
embossments ; and the whole mount to be thirty 
foot high, and some fine banquetting-house with 
some chimneys neatly cast, and without too much 

For fountains, they are a great beauty and re- 
freshment; but pools mar all, and make the garden 
unwholesome, and full of flies and frogs. Foun- 
tains I intend to be of two natures ; the one that 
sprinkleth or spouteth water : the other a fair re- 
ceipt of water, of some thirty or forty foot square, 
but without fish, or slime, or mud. For the first, 
the ornaments of images, gilt or of marble, which 
are in use, do well : but the main matter is so to 
convey the water, as it never stay, either in the 
bowls or in the cistern : that the water be never 
by rest discoloured, green or red, or the like, or 
gather any mossiness or putrefaction; besides that, 


it is to be cleansed every day by the hand : also 
some steps up to it, and some fine pavement about 
it doth well. As for the other kind of fountain, 
which we may call a bathing pool, it may admit 
much curiosity and beauty, wherewith we will not 
trouble ourselves : as, that the bottom be finely 
paved, and with images ; the sides likewise ; and 
withal embellished with coloured glass, and such 
things of lustre ; encompassed also with fine rails 
of low statues : but the main point is the same 
which we mentioned in the former kind of foun- 
tain ; which is, that the water be in perpetual mo- 
tion, fed by a water higher than the pool, and de- 
livered into it by fair spouts, and then discharged 
away under ground, by some equality of bores, 
that it stay little ; and for fine devices, of arching 
water without spilling, and making it rise in several 
forms (of feathers, drinking glasses, canopies, and 
the like), they be pretty things to look on, but no- 
thing to health and sweetness. 

For the heath, which was the third part of our 
plot, I wished it to be framed as much as may be 
to a natural wildness. Trees I would have none 
in it, but some thickets made only of sweet-brier 
and honeysuckle, and some wild vine amongst; and 
the ground set with violets, strawberries, and prim- 
roses ; for these are sweet, and prosper in the shade ; 
and these to be in the heath here and there, not in 
any order. I like also little heaps, in the nature 
of mole-hills (such as are in wild heaths), to be set, 

172 ESSAYS. 

some with wild thyme, some with pinks, some with 
germander, that gives a good flower to the eye ; 
some with periwinkle, some with violets, some with 
strawberries, some with cowslips, some with daisies, 
some with red roses, some with lilium convallium, 
some with sweet-williams red, some with bear's-foot, 
and the like low flowers, being withal sweet and 
sightly ; part of which heaps to be with standards 
of little bushes pricked upon their top, and part 
without : the standards to be roses, juniper, holly, 
barberries (but here and there, because of the smell 
of their blossom,) red currants, gooseberries, rose- 
mary, bays, sweet-brier, and such-like : but these 
standards to be kept with cutting, that they grow 
not out of course. 

For the side grounds, you are to fill them with 
variety of alleys, private, to give a full shade ; some 
of them, wheresoever the sun be. You are to frame 
some of them likewise for shelter, that when the 
wind blows sharp, you may walk as in a gallery : 
and those alleys must be likewise hedged at both 
ends, to keep out the wind ; and these closer alleys 
must be ever finely gravelled, and no grass, because 
of going wet. In many of these alleys, likewise, 
you are to set fruit-trees of all sorts, as well upon 
the walls as in ranges ; and this should be generally 
observed, that the borders wherein you plant your 
fruit-trees be fair, and large, and low, and not steep ; 
and set with fine flowers, but thin and sparingly, 
lest they deceive the trees. At the end of both the 


side grounds I would have a mount of some pretty 
height, leaving the wall of the enclosure breast high, 
to look abroad into the fields. 

For the main garden I do not deny but there 
should be some fair alleys ranged on both sides, 
with fruit-trees, and some pretty tufts of fruit-trees 
and arbours with seats, set in some decent order ; 
but these to be by no means set too thick, but to 
leave the main garden so as it be not close, but the 
air open and free. For as for shade, I would have 
you rest upon the alleys of the side grounds, there 
to walk, if you be disposed, in the heat of the year 
or day ; but to make account that the main garden 
is for the more temperate parts of the year, and, in 
the heat of summer, for the morning and the even- 
ing, or overcast days. 

For aviaries, I like them not, except they be of 
that largeness as they may be turfed, and have living 
plants and bushes set in them ; that the birds may 
have more scope and natural nestling, and that no 
foulness appear in the floor of the aviary. So I 
have made a platform of a princely garden, partly 
by precept, partly by drawing ; not a model, but 
some general lines of it ; and in this I have spared 
for no cost : but it is nothing for great princes, that, 
for the most part, taking advice with workmen, with 
no less cost set their things together, and sometimes 
add statues, and such things, for state and magni- 
ficence, but nothing to the true pleasure of a garden. 

174 ESSAYS. 


IT is generally better to deal by speech than by 
letter ; and by the mediation of a third than by 
a man's self. Letters are good, when a man would 
draw an answer by letter back again ; or w T hen it 
may serve for a man's justification afterwards to 
produce his own letter ; or where it may be dan- 
ger to be interrupted, or heard by pieces. To deal 
in person is good, when a man's face breedeth re- 
gard, as commonly with inferiors ; or in tender 
cases, where a man's eye upon the countenance of 
him with whom he speaketh, may give him a direc- 
tion how far to go ; and generally, where a man 
will reserve to himself liberty, either to disavow or 
to expound. In choice of instruments, it is better 
to choose men of a plainer sort, that are like to do 
that, that is committed to them, and to report back 
again faithfully the success, than those that are 
cunning to contrive out of other men's business 
somewhat to grace themselves, and will help the 
matter in report, for satisfaction sake. Use also 
such persons as affect the business wherein they 
are employed, for that quickenethmuch; and such 
as are fit for the matter, as bold men for expostu- 
lation, fair spoken men for persuasion, crafty men 
for inquiry and observation, froward and absurd 
men for business that doth not well bear out itself. 


Use also such as have been lucky and prevailed 
before in things wherein you have employed them ; 
for that breeds confidence, and they will strive to 
maintain their prescription. It is better to sound 
a person with whom one deals afar off, than to fall 
upon the point at first, except you mean to surprise 
him by some short question. It is better dealing 
with men in appetite, than with those that are where 
they would be. If a man deal with another upon 
conditions, the start of first performance is all : 
which a man cannot reasonably demand, except 
either the nature of the thing be such, which must 
go before : or else a man can persuade the other 
party, that he shall still need him in some other 
thing; or else that he be counted the hones ter man. 
All practice is to discover, or to work. Men dis- 
cover themselves in trust, in passion, at unawares ; 
and of necessity, when they would have somewhat 
done, and cannot find an apt pretext. If you would 
work any man, you must either know his nature 
and fashions, and so lead him ; or his ends, and so 
persuade him; or his weakness and disadvantages, 
and so awe him ; or those that have interest in him, 
and so govern him. In dealing with cunning per- 
sons, we must ever consider their ends, to interpret 
their speeches; and it is good to say little to them, 
and that which they least look for. In all negoci- 
ations of difficulty, a man may not look to sow 
and reap at once ; but must prepare business, and 
so ripen it by degrees. 

176 ESSAYS. 


COSTLY followers are not to be liked; lest 
while a man maketh his train longer, he make 
his wings shorter. I reckon to be costly, not them 
alone which charge the purse, but which are wea- 
risome and importune in suits. Ordinary followers 
ought to challenge no higher conditions than coun- 
tenance, recommendation, and protection from 
w r rongs. Factious followers are worse to be liked, 
which follow not upon affection to him with whom 
they range themselves, but upon discontentment 
conceived against some other; whereupon com- 
monly ensueth that ill intelligence, that we many 
times see between great personages. Likewise glo- 
rious followers, who make themselves as trumpets 
of the commendation of those they follow, are full 
of inconvenience, for they taint business through 
want of secrecy ; and they export honour from a 
man, and make him a return in envy. There is a 
kind of followers, likewise, which are dangerous, 
being indeed espials; which inquire the secrets of 
the house, and bear tales of them to others ; yet 
such men, many times, are in great favour ; for 
they are officious, and commonly exchange tales. 
The following by certain estates of men, answer- 
able to that which a great person himself professeth, 


(as of soldiers to him that hath been employed in 
the wars, and the like), hath ever been a thing civil, 
and well taken even in monarchies, so it be with- 
out too much pomp or popularity : but the most 
honourable kind of following, is to be followed as 
one that apprehendeth to advance virtue and desert 
in all sorts of persons ; and yet, where there is ho 
eminent odds in sufficiency, it is better to take with 
the more passable, than with the more able; and 
besides, to speak truth in base times, active men 
are of more use than virtuous. It is true, that in 
government, it is good to use men of one rank 
equally : for to countenance some extraordinarily, 
is to make them insolent, and the rest discontent ; 
because they may claim a due : but contrariwise 
in favour, to use men with much difference and 
election is good ; for it maketh the persons pre- 
ferred more thankful, and the rest more officious : 
because all is of favour. It is good discretion not 
to make too much of any man at the first ; because 
one cannot hold out that proportion. To be go- 
verned (as we call it), by one, is not safe ; for it 
shews softness, and gives a freedom to scandal and 
disreputation ; for those that would not censure, 
or speak ill of a man immediately, will talk more 
boldly of those that are so great with them, and 
thereby wound their honour ; yet to be distracted 
with many, is worse ; for it makes men to be of 
the last impression, and full of change. To take 
advice of some few friends is ever honourable ; 


178 ESSAYS. 

for lookers-on many times see more than game- 
sters ; and the vale best discovereth the hill. 
There is little friendship in the world, and least 
of all between equals, which was wont to be mag- 
nified. That that is, is between superior and infe- 
rior, whose fortunes may comprehend the one the 


MANY ill matters and projects are under- 
taken; and private suits do putrefy the 
public good. Many good matters are undertaken 
with bad minds ; I mean not only corrupt minds, 
but crafty minds ; that intend not performance. 
Some embrace suits, which never mean to deal 
effectually in them ; but if they see there may be 
life in the matter, by some other mean, they will 
be content to win a thank, or take a second re- 
ward, or at least, to make use in the mean time of 
the suitor's hopes. Some take hold of suits only 
for an occasion to cross some other, or to make 
an information, whereof they could not otherwise 
have apt pretext, without care what become of 
the suit when that turn is served ; or, generally, 
to make other men's business a kind of entertain- 
ment to bring in their own : nay, some undertake 
suits with a full purpose to let them fall ; to the 


end to gratify the adverse party, or competitor. 
Surely there is in some sort a right in every suit ; 
either a right of equity, if it be a suit of contro- 
versy, or a right of desert if it be a suit of petition. 
If affection lead a man to favour the wrong side 
in justice, let him rather use his countenance to 
compound the matter than to carry it. If affection 
lead a man to favour the less worthy in desert, let 
him do it without depraving or disabling the better 
deserver. In suits which a man doth not well 
understand, it is good to refer them to some friend 
of trust and judgment, that may report whether 
he may deal in them with honour : but let him 
choose well his referendaries, for else he may be 
led by the nose. Suitors are so distasted with 
delays and abuses, that plain dealing in denying 
to deal in suits at first, and reporting the success 
barely, and in challenging no more thanks than 
one hath deserved, is grown not only honourable 
but also gracious. In suits of favour, the first 
coming ought to take little place ; so far forth 
consideration may be had of his trust, that if in- 
telligence of the matter could not otherwise have 
been had but by him, advantage be not taken of 
the note, but the party left to his other means ; 
and in some sort recompensed for his discovery. 
To be ignorant of the value of a suit, is simplicity; 
as well as to be ignorant of the right thereof, is 
want of conscience. Secrecy in suits is a great 
mean of obtaining ; for voicing them to be in for- 

180 ESSAYS. 

wardness may discourage some kind of suitors ; 
but doth quicken and awake others : but timing of 
the suit is the principal ; timing I say, not only 
in respect of the person that should grant it, but 
in respect of those which are like to cross it. Let 
a man, in the choice of his mean, rather choose 
the fittest mean, than the greatest mean ; and 
rather them that deal in certain things, than those 
that are general. The reparation of a denial is 
sometimes equal to the first grant, if a man shew 
himself neither dejected nor discontented. " Ini- 
quum petas, ut sequum feras," is a good rule, 
where a man hath strength of favour : but other- 
wise a man were better rise in his suit ; for he 
that would have ventured at first to have lost the 
suitor, will not, in the conclusion, lose both the 
suitor and his own former favour. Nothing is 
thought so easy a request to a great person, as 
his letter; and yet, if it be not in a good cause, 
it is so much out of his reputation. There are no 
worse instruments than these general contrivers of 
suits ; for they are but a kind of poison and infec- 
tion to public proceedings. 



STUDIES serve for delight, for ornament, and 
for ability. Their chief use for delight, is in 
privateness and retiring ; for ornament, is in dis- 
course ; and for ability, is in the judgment and 
disposition of business ; for expert men can exe- 
cute, and perhaps judge of particulars, one by 
one: but the general counsels, and the plots and 
marshalling of affairs come best from those that 
are learned. To spend too much time in studies, 
is sloth ; to use them too much for ornament, is 
affectation; to make judgment wholly by their 
rules, is the humour of a scholar : they perfect 
nature, and are perfected by experience : for na- 
tural abilities are like natural plants, that need 
pruning by study ; and studies themselves do give 
forth directions too much at large, except they be 
bounded in by experience. Crafty men contemn 
studies, simple men admire them, and wise men 
use them ; for they teach not their own use ; but 
that is a wisdom without them, and above them, 
won by observation. Read not to contradict and 
confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor 
to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and con- 
sider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be 
swallowed, and some few to be chewed and di- 

182 ESSAYS. 

gested ; that is, some books are to be read only in 
parts ; others to be read, but not curiously ; and 
some few to be read wholly, and with diligence 
and attention. Some books also may be read by 
deputy, and extracts made of them by others ; but 
that would be only in the less important argu- 
ments and the meaner sort of books ; else distilled 
books are, like common distilled waters, flashy 
things. Reading maketh a full man ; conference 
a ready man ; and writing an exact man ; and, 
therefore, if a man write little, he had need have 
a great memory ; if he confer little, he had need 
have a present wit ; and if he read little, he had 
need have much cunning, to seem to know that 
he doth not. Histories make men wise; poets, 
witty ; the mathematics, subtile ; natural philo- 
sophy, deep ; moral, grave ; logic and rhetoric, 
able to contend ; " Abeunt studia in mores ;" nay, 
there is no stond or impediment in the wit, but 
may be wrought out by fit studies : like as dis- 
eases of the body may have appropriate exercises ; 
bowling is good for the stone and reins, shooting 
for the lungs and breast, gentle walking for the 
stomach, riding for the head and the like ; so if a 
man's wit be wandering, let him study the mathe- 
matics ; for in demonstrations, if his wit be called 
away never so little, he must begin again ; if his 
wit be not apt to distinguish or find differences, 
let him study the schoolmen, for they are " Cymini 



sectores ;" if he be not apt to beat over matters, 
and to call up one thing to prove and illustrate 
another, let him study the lawyers' cases : so every 
defect of the mind may have a special receipt. 


MANY have an opinion not wise, that for a 
prince to govern his estate, or for a great 
person to govern his proceedings, according to the 
respect to factions, is a principal part of policy; 
whereas, contrariwise, the chiefest wisdom is, either 
in ordering those things which are general, and 
wherein men of several factions do nevertheless 
agree, or in dealing with correspondence to parti- 
cular persons, one by one : but I say not, that the 
consideration of factions is to be neglected. Mean 
men, in their rising must adhere ; but great men, 
that have strength in themselves, were better to 
maintain themselves indifferent and neutral : yet 
even in beginners, to adhere so moderately, as he 
be a man of the one faction, which is most passable 
with the other, commonly giveth best way. The 
lower and weaker faction is the firmer in conjunc- 
tion; and it is often seen, that a few that are 
stiff, do tire out a great number that are more 
moderate. When one of the factions is ex tin- 

184 ESSAYS. 

guished, the remaining subdivideth ; as the faction 
between Lucullus and the rest of the nobles of the 
senate (which they called " optimates") held out 
awhile against the faction of Pompey and Caesar ; 
but when the senate's authority was pulled down, 
Caesar and Pompey soon after brake. The faction 
or party of Antonius and Octavianus Caesar, against 
Brutus and Cassius, held out likewise for a time, 
but when Brutus and Cassius were overthrown, 
then soon after Antonius and Octavianus brake 
and subdivided. These examples are of wars, but 
the same holdeth in private factions : and, there- 
fore, those that are seconds in factions, do many 
times, when the faction subdivideth, prove prin- 
cipals; but many times also they prove cyphers 
and cashiered; for many a man's strength is in 
opposition ; and when that faileth, he groweth out 
of use. It is commonly seen that men once placed, 
take in with the contrary faction to that by which 
they enter: thinking, belike, that they have the 
first sure, and now are ready for a new purchase. 
The traitor in faction lightly goeth away with it, 
for w T hen matters have stuck long in balancing, 
the winning of some one man casteth them, and he 
getteth all the thanks. The even carriage between 
two factions proceedeth not always of moderation, 
but of a trueness to a man's self, with end to make 
use of both. Certainly, in Italy, they hold it a 
little suspect in popes, when they have often in 
their mouth " Padre commune :" and take it to be 


a sign of one that meaneth to refer all to the great- 
ness of his own house. Kings had need beware 
how they side themselves, and make themselves 
as of a faction or party; for leagues within the 
state are ever pernicious to monarchies ; for they 
raise an obligation paramount to obligation of 
sovereignty, and make the king " tanquam unus 
ex nobis;" as was to be seen in the league of 
France. When factions are carried too high and 
too violently, it is a sign of weakness in princes, 
and much to the prejudice both of their authority 
and business. The motions of factions under kings, 
ought to be like the motions (as the astronomers 
speak,) of the inferior orbs, which may have their 
proper motions, but yet still are quietly carried by 
the higher motion of " primum mobile." 


HE that is only real, had need have exceeding 
great parts of virtue ; as the stone had need 
to be rich that is set without foil ; but if a man 
mark it well, it is in praise and commendation of 
men, as it is in gettings and gains : for the pro- 
verb is true " That light gains make heavy purses ;" 
for light gains come thick, whereas great come 
but now and then : so it is true, that small mat- 
ters win great* commendation, because they are 

186 ESSAYS. 

continually in use and in note : whereas the occa- 
sion of any great virtue cometh but on festivals ; 
therefore it doth much add to a man's reputation, 
and is, (as queen Isabella said), like perpetual let- 
ters commendatory, to have good forms ; to attain 
them, it almost sufficeth not to despise them ; for 
so shall a man observe them in others ; and let 
him trust himself with the rest ; for if he labour 
too much to express them, he shall lose their 
grace; which is to be natural and unaffected. 
Some men's behaviour is like a verse, wherein 
every syllable is measured ; how can a man com- 
prehend great matters, that breaketh his mind too 
much to small observations? Not to use cere- 
monies at all, is to teach others not to use them 
again ; and so diminisheth respect to himself; 
especially they be not to be omitted to strangers 
and formal natures ; but the dwelling upon them, 
and exalting them above the moon, is not only 
tedious, but doth diminish the faith and credit of 
him that speaks; and, certainly, there is a kind 
of conveying of effectual and imprinting passages 
amongst compliments, which is of singular use, if 
a man can hit upon it. Amongst a man's peers, 
a man shall be sure of familiarity ; and therefore 
it is good a little to keep state ; amongst a man's 
inferiors, one shall be sure of reverence ; and there- 
fore it is good a little to be familiar. He that is 
too much in any thing, so that he giveth another 
occasion of society, maketh himself cheap. To 


apply one's self to others, is good ; so it be with 
demonstration, that a man doth it upon regard, 
and not upon facility. It is a good precept, gene- 
rally in seconding another, yet to add somewhat 
of one's own : as if you will grant his opinion, let 
it be with some distinction ; if you will follow his 
motion, let it be with condition ; if you allow his 
counsel, let it be with alleging further reason. 
Men had need beware how they be too perfect in 
compliments ; for be they never so sufficient other- 
wise, their enviers will be sure to give them that 
attribute, to the disadvantage of their greater vir- 
tues. It is loss also in business to be too fall of 
respects, or to be too curious in observing times 
and opportunities. Solomon saith, " He that con- 
sidered the wind shall not sow, and he that looketh 
to the clouds shall not reap." A wise man will 
make more opportunities than he finds. Men's 
behaviour should be like their apparel, not too 
strait or point device, but free for exercise or 


PRAISE is the reflection of virtue, but it is as 
the glass, or body, which giveth the reflec- 
tion; if it be from the common people, it is com- 
monly false and nought, and rather followeth vain 

188 ESSAYS. 

persons than virtuous : for the common people 
understand not many excellent virtues : the lowest 
virtues draw praise from them, the middle virtues 
work in them astonishment or admiration ; but of 
the highest virtues they have no sense or per- 
ceiving at all ; but shews and " species virtutibus 
similes," serve best with them. Certainly, fame 
is like a river, that beareth up things light and 
swollen, and drowns things weighty and solid ; 
but if persons of quality and judgment concur, 
then it is (as the Scripture saith), " Nomen bo- 
num instar unguenti fragrantis ; " it filleth all 
round about, and will not easily away; for the 
odours of ointments are more durable than those 
of flowers. There be so many false points of 
praise, that a man may justly hold it a suspect. 
Some praises proceed merely of flattery ; and if 
he be an ordinary flatterer, he will have certain 
common attributes, which may serve every man ; 
if he be a cunning flatterer, he will follow the 
arch-flatterer, which is a man's self, and wherein 
a man thinketh best of himself, therein the flat- 
terer will uphold him most : but if he be an impu- 
dent flatterer, look wherein a man is conscious to 
himself that he is most defective, and is most out 
of countenance in himself, that will the flatterer 
entitle him to, perforce, " spreta conscientia." 
Some praises come of good wishes and respects, 
which is a form due in civility to kings and great 
persons, " laudando prsecipere;" when by telling 



men what they are, they represent to them what 
they should be : some men are praised maliciously 
to their hurt, thereby to stir envy and jealousy 
towards them; " Pessimum genus inimicorum lau- 
dantium ; " insomuch as it was a proverb amongst 
the Grecians, that, " he that was praised to his 
hurt, should have a push rise upon his nose ; " 
as we say, that a blister will rise upon one's tongue 
that tells a lie ; certainly, moderate praise, used 
with opportunity, and not vulgar, is that which 
doth the good. Solomon saith, " He that praiseth 
his friend aloud, rising early, it shall be to him no 
better than a curse. " Too much magnifying of 
man or matter doth irritate contradiction, and pro- 
cure envy and scorn. To praise a man's self 
cannot be decent, except it be in rare cases ; but 
to praise a man's office or profession, he may do it 
with good grace, and with a kind of magnanimity. 
The cardinals of Rome, which are theologues, and 
friars, and schoolmen, have a phrase of notable 
contempt and scorn towards civil business, for they 
call all temporal business of wars, embassages, ju« 
dicature, and other employments, sbirrerie, which 
is under-sherinries, as if they were but matters 
for under-sheriffs and catch-poles ; though many 
times those under-sheriffries do more good than 
their high speculations. St. Paul, when he boasts 
of himself, he doth oft interlace, " I speak like a 
fool ; " but speaking of his calling, he saith, 
" Magnificabo apostolatum meum." 

190 ESSAYS. 


IT was prettily devised of iEsop, the fly sat upon 
the axle-tree of the chariot- wheel, and said, 
" What a dust do I raise!" So are there some 
vain persons, that, whatsoever goeth alone, or mo- 
ve th upon greater means, if they have never so little 
hand in it, they think it is they that carry it. They 
that are glorious must needs be factious ; for all 
bravery stands upon comparisons. They must 
needs be violent to make good their own vaunts ; 
neither can they be secret, and therefore not 
effectual ; but according to the French proverb, 
" beaucoup de bruit, peu de fruit;" " much bruit, 
little fruit." Yet, certainly, there is use of this 
quality in civil affairs : where there is an opinion 
and fame to be created, either of virtue or great- 
ness, these men are good trumpeters. Again, as 
Titus Livius noteth, in the case of Antiochus and 
the iEtolians, there are sometimes great effects of 
cross lies ; as if a man that negociates between two 
princes, to draw them to join in a war against the 
third, doth extol the forces of either of them above 
measure, the one to the other : and sometimes he 
that deals between man and man, raiseth his own 
credit with both, by pretending greater interest than 
he hath in either : and in these, and the like kinds, 


it often falls out, that somewhat is produced of no- 
thing* ; for lies are sufficient to breed opinion, and 
opinion brings on substance. In military com- 
manders and soldiers, vain glory is an essential 
point ; for as iron sharpens iron, so by glory, one 
courage sharpeneth another. In cases of great 
enterprise upon charge and adventure, a composi- 
tion of glorious natures doth put life into business ; 
and those that are of solid and sober natures, have 
more of the ballast than of the sail. In fame of 
learning the flight will be. slow without some fea- 
thers of ostentation : " Qui de contemnenda gloria 
libros scribunt, nomen >uum inscribunt." Socra- 
tes, Aristotle, Galen, were men full of ostentation : 
certainly, vain glory helpeth to perpetuate a man's 
memory ; and virtue was never so beholden to hu- 
man nature, as it received its due at the second 
hand. Neither had the fame of Cicero, Seneca, 
Plinius Secundus, borne her age so well if it had 
not been joined with some vanity in themselves ; 
like unto varnish, that makes ceilings not only 
shine, but last. But all this while, when I speak 
of vain glory, I mean not of that property that Ta- 
citus doth attribute to Mucianus, " Omnium, quae 
dixerat feceratque, arte quadam ostentator :" for 
that proceeds not of vanity, but of natural magna- 
nimity and discretion ; and, in some persons, is 
not only comely, but gracious : for excusations, 
cessions, modesty itself, well governed, are but arts 
of ostentation; and amongst those arts there is 

192 ESSAYS. 

none better than that which Plinius Secundus 
speaketh of, which is to be liberal of praise and 
commendation to others, in that wherein a man's 
self hath any perfection : for, saith Pliny, very 
wittily, " In commending another you do yourself 
right ;" for he that you commend is either superior 
to you in that you commend, or inferior ; if he be 
inferior, if he be to be commended, you much more ; 
if he be superior, if he be not to be commended, 
you much less. Glorious men are the scorn of 
wise men, the admiration of fools, the idols of pa- 
rasites, and the slaves of their own vaunts. 


THE winning of honour is but the revealing of 
a man's virtue and worth without disadvan- 
tage ; for some in their actions do woo and affect 
honour and reputation ; which sort of men are 
commonly much talked of, but inwardly little ad- 
mired : and some, contrariwise, darken their virtue 
in the shew of it ; so as they be undervalued in 
opinion. If a man perform that which hath not 
been attempted before, or attempted and given over, 
or hath been achieved, but not with so good circum- 
stance, he shall purchase more honour than by af- 
fecting a matter of greater difficulty, or virtue, 
wherein he is but a follower. If a man so temper 


his actions, as in some one of them, he doth con- 
tent every faction or combination of people, the 
music will be the fuller. A man is an ill husband 
of his honour that entereth into any action, the 
failing wherein may disgrace him more than the 
carrying of it through, can honour him. Honour 
that is gained and broken upon another hath the 
quickest reflection, like diamonds cut with facets ; 
and, therefore, let a man contend to excel any com- 
petitors of his in honour, in outshooting them, if 
he can, in their own bow. Discreet followers and 
servants help much to reputation: " Omnis fama 
a domesticis emanat." Envy, which is the canker 
of honour, is best extinguished by declaring a 
man's self in his ends, rather to seek merit than 
fame : and by attributing a man's successes ra- 
ther to divine Providence and felicity, than to 
his own virtue or policy. The true marshalling 
of the degrees of sovereign honour are these : 
in the first place are " conditores imperiorum," 
founders of states and commonwealths ; such as 
were Romulus, Cyrus, Csesar, Ottoman, Ismael : 
in the second place are " legislatores," lawgivers ; 
which are also called second founders, or " per- 
petui principes," because they govern by their 
ordinances after they are gone ; such were Lycur- 
gus, Solon, Justinian, Edgar, Alphonsus of Cas- 
tile, the wise, that made the " Siete partidas :" 
in the third place are " liberatores," or " salva- 
tores," such as compound the long miseries of civil 

194 ESSAYS. 

wars, or deliver their countries from servitude of 
strangers or tyrants ; as Augustus Caesar, Vespa- 
sianus, Aurelianus, Theodoricus, King 1 Henry the 
Seventh of England, King Henry the Fourth of 
France: in the fourth place are " propagatores," 
or " propugnatores imperii," such as in honour- 
able wars enlarge their territories, or make noble 
defence against invaders : and, in the last place, 
are " patres patriae/' which reign justly and make 
the times good wherein they live ; both which last 
kinds need no examples, they are in such number. 
Degrees of honour in subjects are, first, " partici- 
pes curarum," those upon whom princes do dis- 
charge the greatest weight of their affairs ; their 
right hands, as we call them: the next are " duces 
belli/' great leaders; such as are princes' lieute- 
nants, and do them notable services in the wars : 
the third are " gratiosi," favourites ; such as ex- 
ceed not this scantling, to be solace to the sove- 
reign, and harmless to the people : and the fourth, 
" negotiis pares;" such as have great places under 
princes, and execute their places with sufficiency. 
There is an honour, likewise, which may be ranked 
amongst the greatest, which happeneth rarely ; 
that is, of such as sacrifice themselves to death or 
clanger for the good of their country; as was M. 
Regulus, and the two Decii. 



JUDGES ought to remember that their office is 
"jus dicere," and not "jus dare;" to interpret 
law, and not to make law, or give law; else will it 
be like the authority claimed by the church of Rome, 
which under pretext of exposition of scripture, doth 
not stick to add and alter, and to pronounce that, 
which they do not find, and by show of antiquity to 
introduce novelty. Judges ought to be more learned 
than witty, more reverend than plausible, and more 
advised than confident. Above all things, integrity 
is their portion and proper virtue. " Cursed (saith 
the law) is he that remove th the landmark.'' The 
mislayer of a mere stone is to blame ; but it is the 
unjust judge that is the capital remover of land- 
marks, when he defineth amiss of lands and property. 
One foul sentence doth more hurt than many foul 
examples ; for these do but corrupt the stream, the 
other corrupteth the fountain : so saith Solomon, 
" Fons turbatus, et vena corrupta est Justus cadens 
in causa sua coram adversario." The office of judges 
may have reference unto the parties that sue, unto 
the advocates that plead, unto the clerks and minis- 
ters of justice underneath them, and to the sovereign 
or state above them. 

First, for the causes or parties that sue. " There 

196 ESSAYS. 

be (saith the Scripture) that turn judgment into 
wormwood;" and surely there be, also, that turn 
it into vinegar; for injustice maketh it bitter, and 
delays make it sour. The principal duty of a judge 
is, to suppress force and fraud; whereof force is the 
more pernicious when it is open, and fraud when it 
is close and disguised. Add thereto contentious 
suits, which ought to be spewed out, as the surfeit 
of courts. A judge ought to prepare his way to a 
just sentence, as God useth to prepare his way, by 
raising valleys and taking down hills : so when 
there appeareth on either side a high hand, vio- 
lent prosecution, cunning advantages taken, com- 
bination, power, great counsel, then is the virtue 
of a judge seen to make inequality equal ; that he 
may plant his judgment as upon an even ground. 
" Qui fortiter emungit, elicit sanguinem;" and 
where the wine-press is hard wrought, it yields a 
harsh wine, that tastes of the grape-stone. Judges 
must beware of hard constructions, and strained 
inferences ; for there is no worse torture thanjhe 
torture of laws : especially in case of laws penal, 
they ought to have care that that which was meant 
for terror be not turned into rigour ; and that they 
bring not upon the people that shower whereof the 
Scripture speaketh, " Pluet super eos laqueos;" 
for penal laws pressed, are a shower of snares upon 
the people : therefore let penal laws, if they have 
been sleepers of long, or if they be grown unfit for 
the present time, be by wise judges confined in the 


execution : " Judicis officium est, ut res, ita tem- 
pora rerum," &c. In causes of life and death judges 
ought, (as far as the law permitteth) in justice to 
remember mercy, and to cast a severe eye upon the 
example, but a merciful eye upon the person. 

Secondly, for the advocates and counsel that 
plead. Patience and gravity of hearing is an es- 
sentiajLparjfcofjustice ; and an overspeaking judge 
is no well-tuned cymbal. It is no grace to a judge 
first to find that which he might have heard in due 
time from the bar ; or to show quickness of conceit 
in cutting off evidence or counsel too short, or to 
prevent information by questions, though pertinent. 
The parts of a judge in hearing are four : to direct 
the evidence ; to moderate length, repetition, or 
impertinency of speech; to recapitulate, select, and 
collate the material points of that which hath been 
said, and to give the rule, or sentence. Whatsoever 
is above these is too much, and proceedeth either 
of glory and willingness to speak, or of impatience 
to hear, or of shortness of memory, or of want of 
a staid and equal attention. It is a strange thing 
to see that the boldness of advocates should prevail 
with judges; whereas they should imitate God, in 
whose seat they sit, who represseth the presump- 
tuous, and giveth grace to the modest: but it is 
more strange, that judges should have noted fa- 
vourites, which cannot but cause multiplication of 
fees, and suspicion of by-ways. There is due from 
the judge to the advocate some commendation and 

198 ESSAYS. 

gracing, where causes are well handled and fair 
pleaded, especially towards the side which obtaineth 
not ; for that upholds in the client the reputation 
of his counsel, and beats down in him the conceit 
of his cause. There is likewise due to the public 
a civil reprehension of advocates, where there ap- 
peareth cunning counsel, gross neglect, slight in- 
formation, indiscreet pressing, or an over-bold de- 
fence ; and let not the counsel at the bar chop with 
the judge, nor wind himself into the handling of 
the cause anew after the judge hath declared his 
sentence ; but, on the other side, let not the judge 
meet the cause half way, nor give occasion to the 
party to say, his counsel or proofs were not heard. 

Thirdly, for that that concerns clerks and minis- 
ters. The place of justice is a hallowed place ; 
and therefore not only the bench but the foot-pace 
and precincts, and purprise thereof ought to be pre- 
served without scandal and corruption ; for, cer- 
tainly, "Grapes, (as the Scripture saith,) will not 
be gathered of thorns or thistles ; " neither can jus- 
tice yield her fruit with sweetness amongst the 
briers and brambles of catching and polling clerks 
and ministers. The attendance of courts is subject 
to four bad instruments : first, certain persons that 
are sowers of suits, which make the court swell, 
and the country pine : the second sort is of those 
that engage courts in quarrels of jurisdiction, and 
are not truly "amici curiae," but "parasiti curiae," 
in puffing a court up beyond her bounds for their 


own scraps and advantage : the third sort is of those 
that may be accounted the left hands of courts : 
persons that are full of nimble and sinister tricks 
and shifts, whereby they pervert the plain and di- 
rect courses of courts, and bring justice into oblique 
lines and labyrinths : and the fourth is the poller 
and exacter of fees : which justifies the common 
resemblance of the courts of justice to the bush, 
whereunto, while the sheep flies for defence in 
weather, he is sure to lose part of his fleece. On 
the other side, an ancient clerk, skilful in prece- 
dents, wary in proceeding, and understanding in 
the business of the court, is an excellent finger of 
a court, and doth many times point the way to the 
judge himself. 

Fourthly, for that which may concern the sove- 
reign and estate. Judges ought, above all, to 
remember the conclusion of the Roman twelve 
tables, " Salus populi suprema lex ; " and to know 
that laws, except they be in order to that end, are 
but things captious, and oracles not well inspired : 
therefore it is a happy thing in a state, when 
kings and states do often consult with judges ; 
and again, when judges do often consult with the 
king and state : the one, when there is matter 
of law intervenient in business of state ; the other, 
when there is some consideration of state interve- 
nient in matter of law ; for many times the things 
deduced tojudgmentmaybe "meum"and " tuum," 
when the reason and consequence thereof may 

200 ESSAYS. 

trench to point of estate : I call matter of estate, 
not only the parts of sovereignty, but whatso- 
ever introduceth any great alteration, or dangerous 
precedent; or concerneth manifestly any great 
portion of people : and let no man weakly conceive 
that just laws, and true policy, have any anti- 
pathy ; for they are like the spirits and sinews, 
that one moves with the other. Let judges also 
remember, that Solomon's throne was supported 
by lions on both sides : let them be lions, but yet 
lions under the throne : being circumspect, that 
they do not check or oppose any points of sove- 
reignty. Let not judges also be so ignorant of 
their own right, as to think there is not left to 
them, as a principal part of their office, a wise use 
and application of laws ; for they may remember 
what the apostle saith of a greater law than theirs : 
" Nos scimus quia lex bona est, modo quis ea 
utatur legitime. " 


TO seek to extinguish anger utterly is but a 
bravery of the Stoics. We have better 
oracles : " Be angry, but sin not : let not the sun 
go down upon your anger." Anger must be 
limited and confined both in race and in time. 
We will first speak how the natural inclination 

OF ANGER. 201 

and habit, " to be angry/' may be attempred and 
calmed ; secondly, how the particular motions of 
anger may be repressed, or, at least, refrained from 
doing mischief; thirdly, how to raise anger, or ap- 
pease anger in another. 

For the first, there is no other way but to medi- 
tate and ruminate well upon the effects of anger, 
how it troubles man's life : and the best time to 
do this, is to look back upon anger when the fit is 
thoroughly over. Seneca saith well, " That anger 
is like ruin, which breaks itself upon that it falls." 
The Scripture exhorteth us " To possess our souls 
in patience ; " whosoever is out of patience, is out 
of possession of his soul. Men must not turn 
bees ; 

" animasque in vulnere ponunt." 

Anger is certainly a kind of baseness ; as it appears 
well in the weakness of those subjects in whom 
it reigns, children, women, old folks, sick folks. 
Only men must beware that they carry their anger 
rather with scorn than with fear; so that they 
may seem rather to be above the injury than be- 
low it; which is a thing easily done, if a man 
will give law to himself in it. 

For the second point, the causes and motives of 
anger are chiefly three : first, to be too sensible 
of hurt ; for no man is angry that feels not him- 
self hurt; and, therefore, tender and delicate per- 
sons must needs be oft angry, they have so many 

202 ESSAYS. 

things to trouble them, which more robust natures 
have little sense of: the next is, the apprehension 
and construction of the injury offered, to be, in 
the circumstances thereof, full of contempt : for 
contempt is that which putteth an edge upon anger, 
as much, or more, than the hurt itself; and, there- 
fore, when men are ingenious in picking out cir- 
cumstances of contempt, they do kindle their anger 
much : lastly, opinion of the touch of a man's 
reputation doth multiply and sharpen anger ; 
wherein the remedy is, that a man should have, 
as Consalvo was wont to say, " telam honoris cras- 
siorem." But in all refrainings of anger, it is 
the best remedy to win time, and to make a man's 
self believe that the opportunity of his revenge is 
not yet come ; but that he foresees a time for it, 
and so to still himself in the mean time, and re- 
serve it. 

To contain anger from mischief, though it take 
hold of a man, there be two things whereof you 
must have special caution : the one, of extreme 
bitterness of words, especially if they be aculeate 
and proper ; for " communia maledicta " are no- 
thing so much ; and again, that in anger a man 
reveal no secrets ; for that makes him not fit for 
society : the other, that you do not peremptorily 
break off in any business in a fit of anger ; but 
howsoever you shew bitterness, do not act any 
thing that is not revocable. 

For raising and appeasing anger in another, it 

OF ANGER. 203 

is done chiefly by choosing of times, when men 
are frowardest and worst disposed to incense them ; 
again, by gathering (as was touched before) all 
that you can find out to aggravate the contempt : 
and the two remedies are by the contraries : the 
former to take good times, when first to relate to 
a man an angry business, for the first impression 
is much ; and the other is, to sever, as much as 
may be, the construction of the injury from the 
point of contempt ; imputing it to misunderstand- 
ing, fear, passion, or what you will. 


SOLOMON saith, " There is no new thing 
upon the earth ; " so that as Plato had an 
imagination that all knowledge was but remem- 
brance; so Solomon giveth his sentence, " That 
all novelty is but oblivion ; " whereby you may 
see, that the river of Lethe runneth as well above 
ground as below. There is an abstruse astrologer 
that saith, if it were not for two things that are 
constant, (the one is, that the fixed stars ever 
stand at like distance one from another, and never 
come nearer together, nor go further asunder; 
the other, that the diurnal motion perpetually 
keepeth time,) no individual would last one mo- 
ment : certain it is, that the matter is in a per- 

204 XSSAYS. 

petual flux, and never at a stay. The great wind- 
ing-sheets that bury all things in oblivion are 
two ; deluges and earthquakes. As for confla- 
grations and great droughts, they do not merely 
dispeople, but destroy. Phaeton's car went but a 
day ; and the three years' drought in the time of 
Elias, was but particular, and left people alive. 
As for the great burnings by lightnings, which 
are often in the West Indies, they are but narrow ; 
but in the other two destructions, by deluge and 
earthquake, it is further to be noted, that the 
remnant of people which happen to be reserved, 
are commonly ignorant and mountainous people, 
that can give no account of the time past; so 
that the oblivion is all one as if none had been 
left. If you consider well of the people of the 
West Indies, it is very probable that they are a 
newer, or a younger people than the people of the 
old world; and it is much more likely that the 
destruction that hath heretofore been there, was 
not by earthquakes (as the ^Egyptian priest told 
Solon, concerning the island of Atlantis, that it 
was swallowed by an earthquake), but rather, that, 
it was desolated by a particular deluge : for earth- 
quakes are seldom in those parts : but on the 
other side, they have such pouring rivers, as the 
rivers of Asia, and Africa, and Europe, are but 
brooks to them. Their Andes likewise, or moun- 
tains, are far higher than those with us ; whereby 
it seems, that the remnants of generations of men 


were in such a particular deluge saved. As for 
the observation that Machiavel hath, that the jea- 
lousy of sects doth much extinguish the memory 
of things ; traducing Gregory the Great, that he 
did what in him lay to extinguish all heathen 
antiquities ; I do not find that those zeals do any 
great effects, nor last long ; as it appeared in the 
succession of Sabinian, who did revive the former 

The vicissitude, or mutations, in the superior 
globe, are no fit matter for this present argument. 
It may be, Plato's great year, if the world should 
last so long, would have some effect, not in renew- 
ing the state of like individuals, (for that is the 
fume of those that conceive the celestial bodies 
have more accurate influences upon these things 
below, than indeed they have) but in gross. Co- 
mets, out of question, have likewise power and 
effect over the gross and mass of things ; but they 
are rather gazed upon, and waited upon in their 
journey, than wisely observed in their effects ; 
especially in their respective effects ; that is, what 
kind of comet for magnitude, colour, version of 
the beams, placing in the region of heaven, or 
lasting, produceth what kind of effects. 

There is a toy, which I have heard, and I would 
not have it given over, but waited upon a little. 
They say it is observed in the Low Countries, (I 
know not in what part) that every five and thirty 
years the same kind and suit of years and weathers 

206 ESSAYS. 

comes about again ; as great frosts, great wet, 
great droughts, warm winters, summers with little 
heat, and the like, and they call it the prime : it 
is a thing I do the rather mention, because, com- 
puting backwards, I have found some concur- 

But to leave these points of nature, and to come 
to men. The greatest vicissitude of things amongst 
men, is the vicissitude of sects and religions ; for 
those orbs rule in men's minds most. The true 
religion is built upon the rock ; the rest are tossed 
upon the waves of time. To speak, therefore, of 
the causes of new sects, and to give some counsel 
concerning them, as far as the weakness of human 
judgment can give stay to so great revolutions. 

When the religion formerly received is rent by 
discords, and when the holiness of the professors 
of religion is decayed and full of scandal, and 
withal the times be stupid, ignorant, and barba- 
rous, you may doubt the springing up of a new 
sect : if then also there should arise any extrava- 
gant and strange spirit to make himself author 
thereof; all which points held when Mahomet 
published his law. If a new sect have not two 
properties, fear it not, for it will not spread : the 
one is the supplanting, or the opposing of autho- 
rity established ; for nothing is more popular than 
that; the other is the giving license to pleasures 
and a voluptuous life : for as for speculative here- 
sies, (such as were in ancient times the Arians, 


and now the Arminians) though they work mightily 
upon men's wits, yet they do not produce any 
great alterations in states ; except it be by the 
help of civil occasions. There be three manner 
of plantations of new sects ; by the power of signs 
and miracles ; by the eloquence and wisdom of 
speech and persuasion ; and by the sword. For 
martyrdoms, I reckon them amongst miracles, be- 
cause they seem to exceed the strength of human 
nature : and I may do the like of superlative and 
admirable holiness of life. Surely there is no 
better way to stop the rising of new sects and 
schisms, than to reform abuses ; to compound the 
smaller differences ; to proceed mildly, and not 
with sanguinary persecutions ; and rather to take 
off the principal authors, by winning and ad- 
vancing them, than to enrage them by violence 
and bitterness. 

The changes and vicissitude in wars are many, 
but chiefly in three things ; in the seats, or stages 
of the war, in the weapons, and in the manner of 
the conduct. Wars, in ancient time, seemed more 
to move from east to west; for the Persians, As- 
syrians, Arabians, Tartars, (which were the inva- 
ders,) were all eastern people. It is true, the 
Gauls were western ; but we read but of two in- 
cursions of theirs : the one to Gallo-Graecia, the 
other to Rome : but east and west have no certain 
points of heaven ; and no more have the wars, 
either from the east or west, any certainty of 

208 ESSAYS. 

observation: but north and south are fixed; and 
it hath seldom or never been seen that the far 
southern people have invaded the northern, but 
contrariwise ; whereby it is manifest that the 
northern tract of the world is in nature the more 
martial region: be it in respect of the stars of 
that hemisphere, or of the great continents that 
are upon the north ; whereas the south part, for 
aught that is known, is almost all sea ; or, (which 
is most apparent) of the cold of the northern parts, 
which is that, which, without aid of discipline, 
doth make the bodies hardest, and the courage 

Upon the breaking and shivering of a great 
state and empire, you may be sure to have wars ; 
for great empires, while they stand, do enervate 
and destroy the forces of the natives which they 
have subdued, resting upon their own protecting 
forces ; and then, when they fail also, all goes to 
ruin, and they become a prey; so was it in the 
decay of the Roman empire, and likewise in the 
empire of Almaigne, after Charles the Great, 
every bird taking a feather; and were not unlike 
to befall to Spain, if it should break. The great 
accessions and unions of kingdoms do likewise 
stir up wars : for when a state grows to an over- 
power, it is like a great flood, that will be sure to 
overflow ; as it hath been seen in the states of 
Rome, Turkey, Spain, and others. Look when 
the world hath fewest barbarous people, but such 


as commonly will not many, or generate, except 
they known means to live, (as it is almost every 
where at this day, except Tartary,) there is no 
danger of inundations of people : but when there 
be great shoals of people, which go on to popu- 
late, without foreseeing means of life and sus- 
tentation, it is of necessity that once in an age or 
two they discharge a portion of their people upon 
other nations, which the ancient northern people 
were wont to do by lot ; casting lots what part 
should stay at home, and what should seek their 
fortunes. When a warlike state grows soft and 
effeminate, they may be sure of a war : for com- 
monly such states are grown rich in the time of 
their degenerating : and so the prey inviteth, and 
their decay in valour encourageth a war. 

As for the weapons, it hardly falleth under rule 
and observation : yet we see even they have returns 
and vicissitudes ; for certain it is, that ordnance 
was known in the city of the Oxidrakes, in India ; 
and was that which the Macedonians called thun- 
der and lightning, and magic ; and it is well known 
that the use of ordnance hath been in China above 
two thousand years. The conditions of weapons, 
and their improvements, are, first, the fetching 
afar off ; for that outruns the danger, as it is seen 
in ordnance and muskets ; secondly, the strength 
of the percussion ; wherein likewise ordnance do 
exceed all arietations, and ancient inventions : the 
third is, the commodious use of them ; as that they 



may serve in all weathers, that the carriage may 
be light and manageable, and the like. 

For the conduct of the war : at the first, men 
rested extremely upon number ; they did put the 
wars likewise upon main force and valour, pointing 
days for pitched fields, and so trying it out upon 
an even match ; and they were more ignorant in 
ranging and arraying their battles. After they 
grew to rest upon number, rather competent than 
vast; they grew to advantages of place, cunning 
diversions, and the like ; and they grew more 
skilful in the ordering of their battles. 

In the youth of a state, arms do flourish ; in the 
middle age of a state, learning ; and then both of 
them together for a time ; in the declining age of 
a state, mechanical arts and merchandize. Learn- 
ing hath its infancy when it is but beginning, and 
almost childish ; then its youth, when it is luxuriant 
and juvenile ; then its strength of years, when it is 
solid and reduced; and, lastly, its old age, when 
it waxeth dry and exhaust ; but it is not good to 
look too long upon these turning wheels of vicissi- 
tude, lest we become giddy : as for the philology 
of them, that is but a circle of tales, and therefore 
not frt for this writing. 



THE poets make Fame a monster : they de- 
scribe her in part finely and elegantly, and in 
part gravely and sententiously : they say, look how 
many feathers she hath, so many eyes she hath 
underneath, so many tongues, so many voices, she 
pricks up so many ears. 

This is a flourish ; there follow excellent para- 
bles ; as that she gathereth strength in going ; that 
she goeth upon the ground, and yet hideth her 
head in the clouds ; that in the day-time she sitteth 
in a watch-tower, and flyeth most by night ; that 
she mingleth things done with things not done ; 
and that she is a terror to great cities ; but that 
which passeth all the rest is, they do recount that 
the Earth, mother of the giants that made war 
against Jupiter, and were by him destroyed, there- 
upon in anger brought forth Fame ; for certain it 
is, that rebels, figured by the giants and seditious 
fames and libels, are but brothers and sisters, mas- 

* Published by Dr. Rawley in his Resuscitatio. 

212 ESSAYS. 

culine and feminine : but now if a man can tame 
this monster, and bring her to feed at the hand and 
govern her, and with her fly other ravening fowl, 
and kill them, it is somewhat worth : but we are 
infected with the style of the poets. To speak now 
in a sad and serious manner, there is not in all the 
politics a place less handled, and more worthy to 
be handled, than this of fame ; we will therefore 
speak of these points : what are false fames ; and 
what are true fames ; and how they may be best 
discerned ; how fames may be sown and raised ; 
how they may be spread and multiplied ; and how 
they may be checked and laid dead ; and other things 
concerning the nature of fame. Fame is of that 
force, as there is scarcely any great action wherein 
it hath not a great part, especially in the war. 
Mucianus undid Vitellius by a fame that he scat- 
tered, that Vitellius had in purpose to remove the 
legions of Syria into Germany, and the legions of 
Germany into Syria ; whereupon the legions of 
Syria were infinitely inflamed. Julius Caesar took 
Pompey unprovided, and laid asleep his industry 
and preparations by a fame that he cunningly gave 
out, how Caesar's own soldiers loved him not ; and 
being wearied with the wars, and laden with the 
spoils of Gaul, would forsake him as soon as he 
came into Italy. Livia settled all things for the 
succession of her son Tiberius, by continual giving 
out that her husband Augustus was upon recovery 
and amendment ; and it is an usual thing with the 

OF FAME. 213 

bashaws, to conceal the death of the Great Turk 
from the janizaries and men of war, to save the 
sacking of Constantinople, and other towns, as 
their manner is. Themistocles made Xerxes, king 
of Persia, post apace out of Grsecia, by giving out 
that the Grecians had a purpose to break his bridge 
of ships which he had made athwart Hellespont. 
There be a thousand such like examples, and the 
more they are, the less they need to be repeated, 
because a man meeteth with them every where : 
therefore let all wise governors have as great a 
watch and care over fames, as they have of the 
actions and designs themselves. 

[the rest was xot finished.] 


1. A KING is a mortal god on earth, unto 
jlSl. whom the living God hath lent his own 
name as a great honour ; but withal told him, he 
should die like a man, lest he should be proud and 
natter himself, that God hath with his name im- 
parted unto him his nature also. 

2. Of all kind of men, God is the least beholden 
unto them; for he doth most for them, and they 
do ordinarily least for him. 

3. A king that would not feel his crown too 
heavy for him, must wear it every day; but if he 

214 ESSAYS. 

think it too light, he knoweth not of what metal 
it is made. 

4. He must make religion the rule of govern- 
ment, and not to balance the scale ; for he that 
caste th in religion only to make the scales even, 
his own w r eight is contained in those characters, 
" Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin, He is found too 
light, his kingdom shall be taken from him.' , 

5. And that king that holds not religion the 
best reason cf state, is void of all piety and justice, 
the supporters of a king. 

6. He must be able to give counsel himself, 
but not rely thereupon ; for though happy events 
justify their counsels, yet it is better that the evil 
event of good advice be rather imputed to a subject 
than a sovereign. 

7. He is the fountain of honour, which should 
not run with a waste pipe, lest the courtiers sell 
the water, and then, as papists say of their holy 
wells, it loses the virtue. 

8. He is the life of the law, not only as he is 
" lex loquens" himself, but because he animateth 
the dead letter, making it active towards all his 
subjects " prsemio et poena." 

9. A wise king must do less in altering* his laws 
than he may; for new government is ever dan- 
gerous. It being true in the body politic, as in 
the corporal, that " omnis subita immutatio est 
periculosa ;" and though it be for the better, yet 
it is not without a fearful apprehension; for he 

OF A KING. 215 

that changeth the fundamental laws of a kingdom, 
thinketh there is no good title to a crown, but by 

10. A king that setteth to sale seats of justice, 
oppresseth the people ; for he teacheth his judges 
to sell justice ; and " pretio parata pretio venditor 

1 1 . Bounty and magnificence are virtues very 
regal, but a prodigal king is nearer a tyrant than 
a parsimonious ; for store at home draweth not his 
contemplations abroad : but want supplieth itself 
of what is next, and many times the next way : a 
king herein must be wise, and know what he may 
justly do. 

12. That king which is not feared, is not loved ; 
and he that is well seen in his craft, must as well 
study to be feared as loved ; yet not loved for fear, 
but feared for love. 

13. Therefore, as he must always resemble Him 
whose great name he beareth, and that as in mani- 
festing the sweet influence of his mercy on the 
severe stroke of his justice sometimes, so in this 
not to suffer a man of death to live ; for besides 
that the land doth mourn, the restraint of justice 
towards sin doth more retard the affection of love, 
than the extent of mercy doth inflame it : and 
sure where love is [ill] bestowed, fear is quite lost. 

14. His greatest enemies are his flatterers ; for 
though they ever speak on his side, yet their words 
still make against him. 

216 ESSAYS. 

15. The love which a king oweth to a weal 
public, should not be overstrained to any one par- 
ticular ; yet that his more special favour do reflect 
upon some worthy ones is somewhat necessary, 
because there are few of that capacity. 

16. He must have a special care of five things, 
if he would not have his crown to be but to him 
" infelix felicitas." 

First, that " simulata Sanctis'' be not in the 
church; for that is " duplex iniquitas. ,, 

Secondly, that " inutilis sequitas" sit not in the 
chancery; for that is " inepta misericordia." 

Thirdly, that " utilis iniquitas" keep not the 
exchequer: for that is " crudele latrocinium." 

Fourthly, that " fidelis temeritas" be not his 
general ; for that will bring but " seram pceni- 
tentiam. ,, 

Fifthly, that " infidelis prudentia" be not his 
secretary ; for that is " anguis sub viridi herba." 

To conclude : as he is of the greatest power, so 
he is subject to the greatest cares, made the ser- 
vant of his people, or else he were without a calling 
at all. 

He then that honoureth him not is next an 
atheist, wanting the fear of God in his heart. 



I HAVE often thought upon death, and I find it 
the least of all evils. All that which is past is 
as a dream ; and he that hopes or depends upon 
time coming, dreams waking. So much of our life 
as we have discovered is already dead ; and all 
those hours which we share, even from the breasts 
of our mother, until we return to our grand-mother, 
the earth, are part of our dying days; whereof even 
this is one, and those that succeed are of the same 
nature, for we die daily ; and as others have given 
place to us, so we must in the end give way to others. 
Physicians, in the name of death include all sorrow, 
anguish, disease, calamity, or whatsoever can fall 
in the life of man, either grievous or unwelcome : 
but these things are familiar unto us, and we suf- 
fer them every hour ; therefore we die daily, and I 
am older since I affirmed it. I know many wise 
men that fear to die, for the change is bitter, and 
flesh would refuse to prove it : besides the expec- 
tation brings terror, and that exceeds the evil. But 
I do not believe, that any man fears to be dead, but 
only the stroke of death : and such are my hopes, 
that if heaven be pleased, and nature renew but my 
lease for twenty-one years more, without asking 
longer days, I shall be strong enough to acknow- 

218 ESSAYS. 

ledge without mourning- that I was begotten mortal. 
Virtue walks not in the highway, though she go 
per alta; this is strength and the blood to virtue, 
to contemn things that be desired, and to neglect 
that which is feared. 

4. Why should man be in love with his fetters, 
though of gold ? Art thou drowned in security ? 
Then I say thou art perfectly dead. For though 
thou movest, yet thy soul is buried within thee, and 
thy good angel either forsakes his guard or sleeps. 
There is nothing under heaven, saving a true friend, 
who cannot be counted within the number of move- 
ables, unto which my heart doth lean. And this 
dear freedom hath begotten me this peace, that I 
mourn not for that end which must be, nor spend 
one wish to have one minute added to the incertain 
date of my years. It was no mean apprehension 
of Lucian, who says of Menippus, that in his tra- 
vels through hell he knew not the kings of the earth 
from other men, but only by their louder cryings 
and tears : which was fostered in them through the 
remorseful memory of the good days they had seen, 
and the fruitful havings which they so unwillingly 
left behind them : he that was well seated, looked 
back at his portion, and was loth to forsake his farm ; 
and others either minding marriages, pleasures, 
profit, or preferment, desired to be excused from 
death's banquet : they had made an appointment 
with earth, looking at the blessings, not the hand 
that enlarged them, forgetting how unclothedly they 

ON DEATH. 219 

came hither, or with what naked ornaments they 
were arrayed. 

5. But were we servants of the precept given, 
and observers of the heathens rule " memento mo- 
ri," and not become benighted with this seeming 
felicity, we should enjoy it as men prepared to lose 
and not wind up our thoughts upon so perishing a 
fortune : he that is not slackly strong, as the ser- 
vants of pleasure, how can he be found unready to 
quit the veil and false visage of his perfection ? The 
soul having shaken off her flesh, doth then set up 
for herself, and contemning things that are under, 
shews what finger hath enforced her ; for the souls 
of idiots are of the same piece with those of states- 
men, but now and then nature is at a fault, and this 
good guest of ours takes soil in an imperfect body, 
and so is slackened from shewing her wonders ; 
like an excellent musician, which cannot utter him- 
self upon a defective instrument. 

6. But see how I am swerved, and lose my 
course, touching at the soul, that doth least hold 
action with death, who hath the surest property in 
this frail act; his stile is the end of all flesh, and 
the beginning of incorruption. 

This ruler of monuments leads men for the most 
part out of this world with their heels forward ; in 
token that he is contrary to life ; which being ob- 
tained, sends men headlong into this wretched 
theatre, where being arrived, their first language 
is that of mourning. Nor in my own thoughts, 

220 ESSAYS. 

can I compare men more fitly to any thing, than 
to the Indian fig-tree, which being ripened to his 
fall height, is said to decline his branches down to 
the earth ; whereof she conceives again, and they 
become roots in their own stock. 

So man having derived his being from the earth, 
first lives the life of a tree, drawing his nourishment 
as a plant, and made ripe for death he tends down- 
wards, and is sowed again in his mother the earth, 
where he perisheth not, but expects a quickening. 

7. So we see death exempts not a man from 
being, but only presents an alteration ; yet there 
are some men, I think, that stand otherwise per- 
suaded. Death finds not a worse friend than an 
alderman, to whose door I never knew him wel- 
come ; but he is an importunate guest, and will 
not be said nay. 

And though they themselves shall affirm, that 
they are not within, yet the answer will not be 
taken ; and that which heightens their fear is, that 
they know they are in danger to forfeit their flesh, 
but are not wise of the payment day: which sickly 
uncertainty is the occasion that, for the most part, 
they step out of this world unfurnished for their 
general account, and being all unprovided, desire 
yet to hold their gravity, preparing their souls to 
answer in scarlet. 

Thus I gather, that death is unagreeable to most 
citizens, because they commonly die intestate : this 
being a rule, that when their will is made, they* 

ON DEATH. 221 

think themselves nearer a grave than before : now 
they out of the wisdom of thousands, think to scare 
destiny from which there is no appeal, by not 
making" a will, or to live longer by protestation of 
their unwillingness to die. They are for the most 
part well made in this world, accounting their trea- 
sure by legions, as men do devils, their fortune 
looks toward them, and they are willing to anchor 
at it, and desire, if it be possible, to put the evil 
day far off from them, and to adjourn their un- 
grateful and killing period. 

No, these are not the men which have bespoken 
death, or whose looks are assured to entertain a 
thought of him. 

8. Death arrives gracious only to such as sit in 
darkness, or lie heavy burned with grief and irons; 
to the poor Christian, that sits bound in the galley; 
to despairful widows, pensive prisoners, and de- 
posed kings : to them whose fortune runs back, and 
whose spirits mutiny ; unto such death is a re- 
deemer, and the grave a place for retiredness and 

These wait upon the shore of death, and waft 
unto him to draw near, wishing above all others to 
see his star, that they might be led to his place, 
wooing the remorseless sisters to wind down the 
watch of their life, and to break them off before the 

9. But death is a doleful messenger to an usurer, 
and fate ultimately cuts their thread : for it is never 



mentioned by him, but when rumours of war and 
civil tumults put him in mind thereof. 

And when many hands are armed, and the 
peace of a city in disorder, and the foot of the 
common soldiers sounds an alarm on his stairs, then 
perhaps such a one, broken in thoughts of his mo- 
nies abroad, and cursing the monuments of coin 
which are in his house, can be content to think of 
death, and, being hasty of perdition, will perhaps 
hang himself lest his throat should be cut; pro- 
vided that he may do it in his study, surrounded 
with wealth, to which his eye sends a faint and 
languishing salute, even upon the turning off; re- 
membering always, that he have time and liberty 
by writing, to depute himself as his own heir. 

For that is a great peace to his end, and recon- 
ciles him wonderfully upon the point. 

10. Herein we all dally with ourselves, and are 
without proof of necessity. I am not of those that 
dare promise to pine away myself in vain glory, and 
I hold such to be but feat boldness, and them that 
dare commit it to be vain. Yet for my part, I think 
nature should do me great wrong, if I should be so 
long in dying, as I was in being born. 

To speak truth, no man knows the lists of his 
own patience ; nor can divine how able he shall be 
in his sufferings, till the storm come ; the perfectest 
virtue being tried in action : but I would out of a 
care to do the best business well, ever keep a guard, 
and stand upon keeping faith and a good conscience. 

ON DEATH. 223 

11. And if wishes might find place, I would die 
together, and not my mind often, and my body 
once ; that is, I would prepare for the messengers 
of death, sickness and affliction, and not wait long, 
or be attempted by the violence of pain. 

Herein I do not profess myself a Stoic, to hold 
grief no evil, but opinion, and a thing indifferent. 

But I consent with Caesar, that the suddenest 
passage is easiest, and there is nothing more awakens 
our resolve and readiness to die, than the quieted 
conscience, strengthened with opinion that we shall 
be well spoken of upon earth by those that are just 
. and of the family of virtue ; the opposite whereof 
I is a fury to man, and makes even life unsweet. 

Therefore, what is more heavy than evil fame de- 
. served? Or, likewise, who can see worse days, 
than he that yet living doth follow at the funerals 
of his own reputation ? 

I have laid up many hopes, that I am privileged 
from that kind of mourning, and could wish the like 
peace to all those with whom I wage love. 

12. I might say much of the commodities that 
death can sell a man : but briefly, death is a friend 
of ours, and he that is not ready to entertain him, 
is not at home. Whilst I am, my ambition is not 
to foreflow the tide ; I have but so to make my in- 
terest of it, as I may account for it ; I would wish 
nothing but what might better my days, nor desire 
any greater place than the front of good opinion. 
1 make not love to the continuance of days, but 

224 ESSAYS. 

to the goodness of them ; nor wish to die, but refer 
myself to my hour, which the great Dispenser of 
all things hath appointed me ; yet as I am frail, 
and suffered for the first fault, were it given me to 
choose, I should not be earnest to see the evening 
of my age ; that extremity of itself being a disease 
and a mere return into infancy ; so that if perpe- 
tuity of life might be given [me, I should think 
w r hat the Greek poet said, Such an age is a mortal 
evil. And since I must needs be dead, I require 
it may not be done before mine enemies, that I be 
not stript before I be cold ; but before my friends. 
The night was even now ; but that name is lost ; 
it is not now late, but early. Mine eyes begin to 
discharge their watch, and compound with this 
fleshly weakness for a time of perpetual rest; and 
I shall presently be as happy for a few hours, as I 
had died the first hour I was born. 







SEEING that without philosophy life itself would 
be no pleasure to me, I cannot but hold you in 
the highest honour, from whom this safeguard and 
solace of my existence has been derived. There- 
fore, under this name, I profess that I owe to you 
myself and all that I have : whence it may appear 
less strange that I should desire to remunerate you 
with gifts of your own, that by natural movement 
they may return thither, whence they first drew 
their origin. And yet, I know not wherefore, there 
appear but few Vestigia vos retrorsum spectantia, 
while innumerable ones proceed from you. Nor, 
as I think, shall I take too much on myself, if I 
hope, that on account of the slight use of things 
which our manner of life and institutions neces- 
sarily produce, some small accession may have been 
made to the discoveries of learned men by these 
works of ours. Such, indeed, is my opinion, that 
contemplations, when transferred to active life, 
acquire no small addition of beauty and vigour: and 


that, more copious matter being* afforded them, thej 
do perhaps take deeper root, and most certainly 
arise more lofty and productive. Nor do you (as 
I think) yourselves know of what wide extent youi 
benefits are, and to how many things they apply. 
Nevertheless it is just that all should be attributed 
to you, since every addition is in great part to be 
attributed to the first elements. Nor will you re- 
quire from a man full of occupations anything- ol 
deep research, or the wondrous effects and preroga- 
tives of leisure ; but will attribute it to my greai 
love towards you and yours, that among the thorns 
of civil affairs these essays have not altogethei 
perished, but are preserved for yourselves as youi 
own property. 


THE antiquities of the first ages (except that 
part of them which is contained in the sacred 
writings) are involved in forgetfulness and silence. 
The silence of early history is followed by the fa- 
bles of the poets, and to these fables succeed the 
authentic records which remain to us ; so that the 
mysteries and recesses of antiquity are separated 
and divided by a veil, as it were, of fables, from 
the clear and manifest traditions of the following 
ages — a veil which has interposed itself so as to 
occupy the middle space between things perished 
and things extant. I do indeed expect that most 
men will be disposed to believe that I am engaged 
in mere trifles of the imagination ; and that I as- 
sume to myself almost as much license in reducing 
to allegory these fables, as the original poets allowed 
themselves in constructing them ; which I might 
lawfully do if I listed, and thereby intermix with 
more lofty meditations these things, which might 
conduce to my own pleasure in reflecting, or to that 
of others in reading. Nor do I forget how tract- 
able the substance of a fable is, so that we may wrest, 
or even naturally draw, it into any form; and how 
much power, readiness of wit, and power of dis- 


course may have, so that interpretations never 
thought of by the author may be elegantly adapted 
to his work. I cannot but consider also, how the 
method which I now propose to myself has been 
long ago perverted by others. For many writers, 
wishing to attach the veneration of antiquity to 
their own inventions and fancies, have attempted 
to turn the fables of the poets to their own object. 
A folly which is of old standing and frequent use ; 
not lately invented, or seldom fallen into. For 
Chrysippus of old, among others, like an inter- 
preter of dreams, used to ascribe stoical opinions to 
the earliest poets. And the chymists, with still 
less ingenuity, transferred the fanciful tales of the 
poets, in their transformations of bodies, to the ex- 
periments of the furnace. All these things, I re- 
peat, I have sedulously examined and weighed ; 
I have noted and considered the levity and laxity 
of men's minds in the admission of allegories ; and 
do not on that account absolutely resign my inten- 
tion. For, in the first place, never may it happen 
that the weakness and licentiousness of some writers 
should detract from the credit of parables in general : 
for this would savour of profanity and audacity, 
seeing that religion so much delights in these ob- 
scure and shadowy representations, that he who 
would reject them, almost dissolves the communion 
between things divine and human. But let us re- 
turn to human wisdom. I freely and willingly 
confess that I am inclined to the opinion, that not 


a few of the fables of the ancient poets contained 
from their very origin a hidden mystery and alle- 
gory : whether it be that I am led astray by my 
admiration of that early age, or I find in 
some of the fables so great a conformity with the 
interpretation, so apt and manifest both in the tex- 
ture of the fable itself, and in the signification of 
the names with which the characters or actors of 
the fable are designed and entitled : that no one 
could consistently deny that such meaning was 
from the beginning proposed and imagined in- 
tentionally by the author, and shadowed forth. 
For who can be so obstinately blind to evidence, 
that, when he hears that after the extermination 
of the giants, Fame was brought forth as a post- 
humous sister to them, he does not immediately 
apply the story to those party murmurs and sedi- 
tious rumours which are wont to spread them- 
selves among a people for awhile after the suppres- 
sion of rebellions. Or when he hears that the giant 
Typhon cut away and carried off the sinews of Ju- 
piter, and that they were stolen from him, and 
restored to Jupiter by Mercury : how can he but 
perceive immediately, that this is to be referred to 
powerful rebellions, by which the sinews of kings, 
their revenue and authority, are cut out ; yet not 
so but that by mildness of address and wisdom of 
edicts, as it were by stolen means, the minds of 
subjects w r ithin a short time are reconciled, and the 
power of kings restored to them. Or when he hears 


that in that memorable expedition of the gods against 
the giants, the ass of Silenus became by his bray- 
ing an instrument of great value in dispersing these 
giants ; must he not clearly see that this was ima- 
gined of those vast projects of rebels, which are 
mostly dissipated by light rumours and vain con- 
sternation ? And who is there to whom the indi- 
cations afforded by the adaptation of names can be 
otherwise than manifest : as firing, the consort of 
Jupiter, implies counsel ; rvtywv, tumidness ; 7ray, 
the universe ; vtfiecrig, revenge, and so forth. Nor 
should it be an obstacle to any one that he may 
sometimes find some foundation in history, or some 
ornamental parts, added for the sake of entertain- 
ment ; or some circumstances of one fable trans- 
ferred to another, and made subservient to a dif- 
ferent allegory. For this must necessarily have 
taken place, these fables being the invention of men 
of various ages and different customs, some of whom 
were ancient, others more modern ; some proposed 
to themselves the illustration of nature, others that 
of civil society. There is also another not unim- 
portant indication of the existence of a hidden and 
involved sense ; namely, that some of the fables 
are so absurd and senseless in their outward narra- 
tion, that they seem to show their nature at first 
sight, and cry for exposition by means of a parable. 
A fable which is probable of itself, may be invented 
merely for pleasure, and for an imitation of history ; 
but that which it could have entered into no man's 


head to imagine, or relate, on its own account, must 
have been intended for other purposes. We may 
instance such a fiction as the following: That Ju- 
piter took Metis to wife, and as soon as he found 
her with child, devoured her, became himself with 
child, and brought forth the armed Pallas by way 
of his head ? I cannot suppose that even a dream 
so monstrous, and so out of all course of thought, 
could have occurred to any man whatever. Above 
all, one consideration has been of great weight and 
importance with me : that most of the fables of 
mythology appear by no means to have been in- 
vented by those who relate them, such as Homer, 
Hesiod, and the rest : for were it clearly made 
manifest to us that they proceeded from that age, 
and those authors by whom they are celebrated, 
and thence transmitted to us, we should surely, I 
conjecture, not have been induced to expect any 
thing great or lofty from an origin such as this. 
But he who considers the subject more attentively 
will discover that they are related to posterity as 
things already received and believed, not then for 
the first time imagined and offered to mankind. 
Moreover, from their being differently related by 
writers nearly contemporary, it is easy to distin- 
guish between what is common to all, and borrowed 
from ancient tradition, and what is variously re- 
lated, and added for the sake of ornament by the 
several writers. And this it is which has increased 
their estimation in my eyes, as being neither dis- 


covered by the poets themselves, nor belonging to 
their age, but a kind of sacred relics, the light 
airs of better ages, which, passing through the 
traditions of earlier nations, have been breathed 
into the trumpets and pipes of the Grecians. If 
any one continues obstinately to maintain that the 
allegory in a fable is always a subordinate and 
subsequently introduced part of it, and in no case 
original and genuine, we will not press hard upon 
him, but will forgive him that severity of judgment 
which he affects, though of dull and leaden nature ; 
and will address ourselves to him, if he be worthy 
of our attention, after another fashion, and on a 
new score. Two distinct uses of parables have been 
invented and generally employed among mankind ; 
and, which is more singular, uses contrary to each 
other. Parables are applied by way of envelop- 
ment and obscurity ; they are applied also by way 
of exposition and illustration. And having set aside 
the former use (in order not to undertake a dispute 
upon it), and having admitted that our ancient fa- 
bles are trifles, composed simply for amusement, 
the second use still remains unquestioned, nor will 
any subtilty of wit violently wrest us, nor any 
authority whatsoever, that is but of middling ac- 
count, prevent us from receiving it without hesita- 
tion, as a serious and important study, not only of 
first-rate utility, but of absolute necessity to sci- 
ence ; this method, namely, of seeking an easier 
and kindlier access to the human intellect, by means 


of these fables, in cases of new inventions, and ab- 
struse doctrines, which are far removed from the 
opinions received among the vulgar. Therefore in 
ancient times, when the discoveries of human rea- 
son, and philosophical conclusions, even such as 
are now trite and universally known, were yet new 
and unaccustomed, all sciences were full of fables, 
enigmas, parables, and similitudes, which were 
employed for a method of teaching knowledge not 
artificially, involving it in obscurity : the minds of 
men being at that time untrained, and impatient of 
all subtleties which passed the perception of their 
senses, and almost incapable of receiving them. 
For as hieroglyphics preceded letters, so did para- 
bles philosophical reasoning. And even in this 
day, if one wish to throw a new light into the minds 
of men on any subject, and that without harshness 
and difficulty, he must follow nearly the same road, 
and betake himself to the assistance of similitudes. 
Therefore, to put a conclusion to what we have 
already said : the wisdom of the first ages was 
either great, or peculiarly fortunate. Great, if the 
metaphor or analogy was purposely laboured out : 
fortunate, if men who had their views on other 
subjects have afforded matter and opportunity to 
such lofty contemplations. Our own labour, if 
any part of it chance to have useful results, we 
shall think not ill laid out on either supposition. 
Either we shall throw light on antiquity, or on the 
subjects themselves. Nor can I but be aware that 


the same thing has been endeavoured by others ; 
yet, if I may express what I feel, and that with 
freedom, and not with fastidious criticism, the 
beauty and value of the study has been almost to- 
tally effaced in works like these, although great 
and laborious in execution ; men unskilled in human 
affairs, and with no learning beyond certain com- 
mon-places of science, having applied the signifi- 
cation of these parables to some popular and general 
topics, without ever reaching their true force, their 
original adaptation, or the more recondite exami- 
nation of them. We, on the other hand, shall be 
(unless I deceive myself) new on common subjects, 
and leaving behind us all that is clear and open to 
the view, shall address ourselves to higher and richer 
fields of interpretation. 



THEY relate that Cassandra was beloved by 
Apollo ; and that she eluded his desires by 
various artifices, still continuing- to nourish his 
hopes, until she had extorted from him the gift of 
divination : and that when once she had acquired 
that which had from the beginning* been the object 
of her dissimulation, she openly rejected his ad- 
dresses. He, being by necessity unable to recall 
the benefit which he had rashly conferred, and de- 
termined not to abide the insult of a crafty woman, 
added this penalty to his present : that she should 
continue to predict infallible truth, but that no one 
should give credit to her words. Thus her pro- 
phecies retained their veracity, but lost all belief 
among men ; as she perpetually experienced even 
in the ruin of her country, of which she had fre- 
quently given warning, unattended to, and believed 
by no man. 

The fable appears to be invented with relation to 
inopportune and useless freedom in giving counsel. 
For those who are of a rough and pertinacious spi- 
rit, and refuse to submit themselves to Apollo, that 


is, to the god of harmony, and so to learn the times 
and measure of thing's; the various tones, acute and 
grave, as it were, of words ; the discrepancies be- 
tween the more subtle and less distinguishing case ; 
and, finally, the proper seasons for speaking and 
for being silent : although they be wise and liberal 
men, and authors of wholesome and good counsels, 
yet scarcely ever profit anything by their impetuo- 
sity and violence of persuasion, and are of little use 
in the conduct of affairs : but rather hurry on the 
destruction of those among* whom they fix them- 
selves, and are celebrated not until after the event, 
as prophets and men gifted with foresight. There 
is an eminent example of this in the life of Marcus 
Cato Uticensis, who saw long beforehand, as if 
standing on an elevated point, the future ruin of 
his country, first from conspiracy, then from the 
contentions which followed between Csesar and 
Pompey, and did most oracularly predict it; but 
advantaged the state in nothing in the mean time, 
or rather was in its way, and accelerated its down- 
fall. This was wisely observed and elegantly de- 
scribed by Cicero, who wrote thus to his friend : 
" Cato holds excellent opinions, but does sometimes 
mischief to the republic ; for he speaks as though 
he were in the republic of Plato, not among the 
dregs of Romulus." 



THE poets narrate that Juno, indignant that 
Jupiter had brought forth Pallas of himself, 
without her, wearied all the gods and goddesses 
with praying that she too might produce a child 
without Jupiter. That when they had at length 
consented, through the violence of her importuni 
ties, she caused an earthquake ; from which dis- 
turbance Typhon arose, a vast and hideous mon- 
ster. He was given to a serpent for nurse, that 
he might receive nourishment from it; and he had 
no sooner attained the age of manhood than he 
excited a war against Jupiter. In this tumult Ju- 
piter fell into the hands of the giant, who carried 
him on his shoulders into a distant and shadowy 
region, where he cut out the sinews of his hands 
and feet, and, carrying them off with him, left the 
god lame and mutilated. Mercury, however, stole 
back the sinews from Typhon, and brought them 
to Jupiter ; who, being restored to strength, at- 
tacked the monster, and first wounded him with a 
thunderbolt, from the blood of which first ser- 
pents were born. Finally, in his flight and confu- 
sion, Jupiter hurled iEtna at him, and pressed him 
down with the mass of the mountain. 

The fable is invented of the varying fortune of 


kings, and the rebellions which are wont to arise 
from time to time in monarchies. For kings are 
rightly understood to be united to their kingdoms, 
as Jupiter to Juno by the yoke of matrimony : but 
it sometimes happens that through the depravation 
incident on long habit of reigning, they incline to 
tyranny, and in contempt of the assistance of the 
orders and the senate, bring forth of themselves : 
that is, administer empire by their own will and ab- 
solute power. This the people bear ill, and exert 
themselves to create some head of affairs from 
their body, and raise it to preeminence. This is 
effected at first by secret solicitation of the nobles 
and chieftains, after whose connivance a rising of 
the people is at length excited ; from which a tumid 
state of things., (signified by the infancy of Typhon) 
takes place. This condition of the kingdom is nou- 
rished by the natural depravity and malignity of 
the people (that serpent which is most hostile to 
kings). Sedition being now increased in strength, 
the troubles break out at length into open rebellion : 
which inflicts infinite evils on kings and people, and 
is therefore represented under that hideous image 
of Typhon, in which the hundred heads represent 
the divided powers ; the burning countenance, the 
devastations by fire ; the belt of snakes, the pesti- 
lential diseases (which particularly ensue on sieges) ; 
the iron hands, the massacres ; the eagle's talons, 
the plundering; the body covered with feathers, the 
variable rumours, reports, fears, and so forth. And 


sometimes these rebellions acquire so great force, 
that the kings are forcibly carried away, as it were, 
by the rebels, compelled to leave their seat of em- 
pire and chief cities, contract their force, and with- 
draw themselves into some obscure province of their 
realm, the sinews of their revenue and majesty being 
cut away : yet, bearing with wisdom their evil for- 
tune, they soon recover their sinews through the 
fidelity and prudence of Mercury ; that is, become 
mild and temperate, and using prudent edicts and 
lenient addresses, effect a reconciliation with the 
spirits and good will of their subjects, and excite 
their alacrity in contributing towards the expenses 
of 4he monarch and the increased vigour of his go- 
vernment. Nevertheless the kings, become cau- 
tious and experienced, refuse for the most part to 
try the chance of fortune, and abstain from battle, 
studying in the meanwhile how to overthrow the 
reputation of the rebels by some notable action. 
If this succeeds to their wish, the rebels, conscious 
of the wound they have received, and trembling for 
their power, first issue vain and broken threats, like 
the hisses of serpents, then, despairing of success, 
betake themselves to flight. And then, at last, 
when their ruin is begun, it is safe and seasonable 
for kings, armed with all their forces, and all the 
mass of their kingdom, as with the weight of Mount 
iEtna, to pursue and overwhelm them. 



THE Cyclopes are said to have been first thrust 
down into Tartarus for their cruelty and fe- 
rocity, and condemned to perpetual imprisonment 
by Jupiter : but that afterwards Tellus (the Earth) 
persuaded him, that he might find it not unprofit- 
able to free them from their chains, and make use 
of their powers for the fabrication of his thunder- 
bolts. Which being done, they set about forging 
the thunderbolts, and other instruments of terror, 
with zeal and industry, in constant labour and in- 
cessant noise. In the course of time it came to 
pass that Jupiter became wroth with iEsculapius, 
the son of Apollo, for resuscitating a dead man by 
art of medicine : but concealing his anger (as there 
was little just cause of indignation in an act so 
notable and benevolent), he secretly instigated the 
Cyclopes to attack him ; and they without delay 
slew him with their thunderbolt. In revenge of 
which action, Apollo, without being opposed of Ju- 
piter, put them to death with his arrows. 

The fable is to be interpreted of the actions of 
princes. These are wont at first to remove from 
authority fierce and sanguinary officers, and op- 
pression, and inflict punishments on them. After- 


wards, counselled by Earth, (that is, by ignoble and 
dishonourable counsel) the hope of advantage pre- 
vailing, they again employ them where they have 
need of severe executions or oppressive extortions. 
Fierce as they are by nature, and still exasperated 
by their former treatment, and w r ell knowing what 
is expected of them, they shew wonderful diligence 
in affairs of this kind ; but being incautious, and 
too precipitately bent upon seeking and obtaining 
favour, they, at length, are incited by secret hints 
and obscure mandates of their princes to perform 
some unpopular act of severity. The princes avoid- 
ing the odium of the crime, and being well aware 
that there will never be a scarcity of such instru- 
ments, desert their adherents, and turn them over 
to the relations and friends of those w^ho have suf- 
fered, leaving them to their insults and hate, and 
the vengeance of the people : until with the ap- 
plause of all, and among the wishes and acclama- 
tions of the populace for their sovereign, they pe- 
rish by a fate rather late than undeserved. 


NARCISSUS is said to have possessed ad- 
mirable beauty of countenance and figure, 
but coupled with great pride and intolerable affec- 
tation. Being pleased only w r ith himself and con- 


temning others, he led a solitary life among woods 
and in the chace, at the head of a few companions, 
to whom he was himself everything. He was fol- 
lowed too everywhere by the nymph Echo. Living 
in this manner, his fate one day led him to arrive 
at a limpid fountain, and to lay down to rest by the 
side of it in the heat of mid-day. But as soon as 
he had beheld his own image in the water, first 
indulging in the vision, and at length entirely ab- 
sorbed and rapt in admiration of himself, he could 
by no means whatever be dragged from this spec- 
tacle ; but languished in fixed contemplation, and 
was <at length changed into a flower bearing his 
own name, which appears early in the spring, and 
is sacred to the infernal gods, Pluto. Proserpine, 
and the Furies. 

The fable seems to represent the character and 
fortune of those, w T ho, whether on account of their 
personal beauty, or of other possessions, with which 
nature alone, unaided by their proper industry, has 
decked and signalized them, fall desperately in 
love with themselves, and as it were languish 
away in self-love. For such a state of mind is 
usually found united with a reluctance to mix with 
the public, or to be engaged in business, because, 
by so occupying themselves, they must necessarily 
subject themselves to slights and disesteem among 
men, which would deject and disturb the tranquil- 
lity of their minds. Thus they generally lead a 
solitary, private, and obscure life, with a small 


company of friends, composed of such as appear 
peculiarly to honour and admire them, and assent 
to all their remarks with the voice of echo ; and 
pay them all manner of homage in their words. 
Depraved and inflated by continuance in this con- 
dition, and at length stupified by constant admira- 
tion of themselves, they fall so entirely under the 
influence of a strange indolence and listlessness, 
that they fall into utter torpor, and become de- 
prived of all vigour and alacrity of mind. The 
spring flower is an elegant emblem of such spirits 
as these, spirits which flourish and are admired in 
their early season, but disappoint and frustrate the 
hopes conceived of them, when they arrive at full 
age. With the same meaning, it is said that this 
flower is sacred to the infernal gods, because men 
of this stamp are entirely useless for every pur- 
pose. Moreover, whatever produces no fruit of 
itself, but passes and vanishes away like the path 
of a ship on the ocean, was by the ancients usually 
consecrated to the shades and infernal o:ods. 


THIS is a very common history, which is in- 
troduced into many fables, concerning that 
one oath by which the infernal gods were wont to 
bind themselves, when they wished to have no 


room whatever left for repentance. This oath in- 
voked and called to witness no celestial majesty, 
no attribute of the divinity, but Styx, a certain 
river of the infernal regions, which was said to 
surround the palace of Dis, with many intricate 
winding's. This form of oath alone and no other 
(besides it) was held to be sacred and inviolable : 
for the punishment imposed on the violators of it 
was one chiefly dreaded by the gods, namely, that 
he who had failed in his oath should not approach 
the banquets of the gods for a certain interval of 

This fable appears to have been invented of the 
treaties and compacts of princes; among" whom it 
is far too true, that treaties, by whatever solemnity 
and sacred observance they may be fortified, are 
of little durability, even so as to be generally en- 
tered into merely for the sake of reputation and 
fair appearances, and for ceremony rather than for 
truth and effective security. Even if the ties of 
relationship happen to be added, those sanctions 
as it were of nature, yet among most it is found 
that everything is postponed to ambition, and the 
hope of advantage, and the license of supreme do- 
minion : so much the more so, because it is easy 
for princes to disguise and defend by various and 
specious pretexts, their cupidity and insincerity, 
there being no controller above them, to whom 
account must be rendered. Therefore there is only 
one received, true, and real security for good faith, 


and that no celestial divinity : this is necessity, a 
great god among' the powerful, and public danger, 
and community of advantage. Necessity is ele- 
gantly represented by Styx, that fatal and irreme- 
able river. This was the godhead invoked by Iphi- 
crates, whose sentiments, since he was bold enough 
openly to say what most resolve silently in their 
minds, it may not be amiss to relate in his own 
words. He, observing that the Lacedaemonians 
were imagining to propose various cautions and 
sanctions, and securities and bonds of treaty, in- 
terrupting them, said, " There can be one only 
sanction and ground of security between us and 
you, O Lacedaemonians ; namely, your plainly de- 
monstrating to us, that you have made such con- 
cessions, and given such securities, that your power 
would not suffice to injure us if your will were ever 
so great towards it." Thus, if the power of doing- 
injury be taken away, or if, upon violation of the 
treaty, danger of dissolution, or diminution, or of 
loss to the revenue ensues to the violator, then only 
are treaties to be accounted sacred, and confirmed 
by an oath similar to that of Styx : the fear being 
at hand of that interdict and suspension from the 
banquets of the gods : under which name the rights 
and prerogatives of dominion, and riches, and feli- 
city, were expressed by the ancients. 



THE ancients were industrious to describe the 
universal nature under the person of Pan. 
His origin they left douhtful. Some assert that 
he was sprung from Mercury; others give him an 
entirely different- birth, for they affirm that all the. 
suitors of Penelope were connected with her, and 
that from this promiscuous connexion Pan, their 
common son, was born. And in this late invented 
relation, without doubt, some of the more modern 
authors introduced the name of Penelope into an 
ancient fable, as they frequently do when they 
transfer older histories to later names and charac- 
ters, and that sometimes in an absurd and inele- 
gant manner, as may be seen in this instance, since . 
Pan was one of the most ancient deities, and far 
earlier than the time of Ulysses, and Penelope was 
peculiarly venerated by antiquity for her matronly 
chastity. Nor must we pass over the third explana- 
tion of his origin:. for some have published thathe 
was the son of Jupiter and Hybris, that is, insolence. 
But however he was born, the Fates are said to have 
been his sisters. The image of Pan is thus des- 
cribed by the ancients : he is horned, with his horns 
pointed even up to Heaven, rough and hairy over 
his whole body, and with a long flowing beard : 


his figure is double, human in the upper part, but 
half bestial, and ending in the feet of a goat. He 
bore the ensigns of power, in his left hand the pipe 
composed of seven reeds ; in his right the crook, 
or piece of wood curved and bent in at the top, and 
was clothed in a cloak of leopard's skin. The fol- 
lowing powers and offices are attributed to him : 
he is the god of huntsmen, shepherds, and coun- 
trymen in general ; the presiding genius of moun- 
tains, and, next to Mercury, the messenger of the 
gods. He was also held to be the leader and com- 
mander of the nymphs, who were wont perpetually 
to form their dances and revels around him, accom- 
panied by trie Satyrs, and the older Sileni. He 
had also the power of inflicting terrors, especially 
empty and superstitious ones, which' are called from 
him panic. The actions recounted of him are not 
many ; the chief, that he challenged Cupid in wrest- 
ling, jand was by him overthrown in the contest. 
He also caught and held down the giant Typhon 
in a net; and it is said, moreover, that when Ceres 
had hid herself through grief and indignation for 
the loss of Proserpine, and all the gods had dili- 
gently applied themselves to the search of her, and 
separated themselves Various ways, Pan alone had, 
by accident; the fortune to find her in hunting, and 
indicate her to the rest. He dared also to contend 
with Apollo for the prize of music, and was pre- 
ferred above him by the judge Midas : for which 
judgment Midas bore asses' ears, but kept them 


secret and under cover. There are no amours of 
Pan related, or at least very few, which seems a 
very singular circumstance, among" a crowd of gods 
so profusely amorous. It is only said of him, that 
he loved the nymph Echo, who was also held as 
his wife : and was inflamed also for a nymph by 
name Syringa, to whose love he was impelled by 
the anger and revenge of Cupid, whom he had 
challenged to wrestle. Nor did he beget any off- 
spring (which is equally singular, since the gods, 
and especially the male ones, had abundance of 
children) except that a certain maid woman, called 
Iambe, is given him for a daughter, who was wont 
to entertain her guests with ludicrous stories ; and 
is thought by some to have been his child by his 
wife Echo. This is a noble fable, if any of them 
be so; weighty and as it were distended with the 
arcana and mysteries of nature. 

Pan (as his very name already intimates) repre- 
sents and expresses the universe of nature. Of 
his origin there are two totally different opinions ; 
and so it may be : either he comes from Mercury, 
that is, the divine Word, (w T hich not only the sa- 
cred Scriptures place beyond all controversy, but 
w r hich was also the opinion of those philosophers 
who were held most divine) or from the confused 
seeds of things. For those who have maintained a 
sing*le principle of things, either have referred it to 
God, or if they have upheld a material princi- 
ple, have represented it as possessing a divided 


power : so that all controversy of this nature may 
be referred to this division, that the universe is 
sprung- either from Mercury or from all the suitors. 

Namque canebat, uti magnum per inane coacta 
Semina terrarumque animaeque marisque fuissent, 
Et liquidi simul ignis ; et his exordia primis 
Omnia, et ipse tener mundi concreverit orbis. 

The third origin of Pan is of such a nature that 
the Greeks must be thought to have imbibed some- 
whatof the mysteries of the Hebrews, either through 
the Egyptians, or by some other passage ; for it re- 
lates to the state of the world, not in its mere birth, 
but in its condition after the fall of Adam, when 
become subject and exposed to death and corrup- 
tion. For that state was and is the offspring of 
God and sin. Thus all these three relations of the 
generation of Pan may be considered true, if they 
be rightly distinguished in matter and according 
to time : for this Pan, who is before our eyes, 
and whom we worship far more than we ought to. 
do, hath his origin from the word of God, through 
the medium of confused matter, and subsequently 
influenced by depravation and corruption. To the 
nature of things the fates of things are with justice 
accounted and denominated sisters ; since the chains 
of natural causes draw with them the birth of things, 
their duration, their death, their depressions, 
their elevations, their labours, their fortunes, and 
all the fates which can influence things. The 
world is provided with horns, because horns of this 


kind are broad at bottom and taper to the top. For 
the entire nature of things is taper like a pyramid. 
The individuals are infinite : these are collected into 
species, which are multiplex and numerous. The 
species again rise into genera, and these by a fur- 
ther ascent are contracted into still higher genera, 
so that nature seems to meet as into one point. 
No wonder that the horns of Pan should strike 
heaven ; seeing that the summits of nature, or 
universal ideas, reach in a certain manner even to 
heaven. For the transit is easy and short from 
metaphysics to natural theology. Moreover, the 
body of nature is with great elegance and truth 
depicted hairy, on account of the rays of things : 
for the rays are as it were the hairs or bristles of 
nature ; and almost all things do, more or less, 
emit rays, as is most evident from the faculty of 
sight, and not less so from every influence and 
operation which creates effects at a distance, for 
everything which operates at a distance may be 
rightly said to emit rays ; but the beard of Pan is 
prominent beyond all, because the rays of celestial 
bodies operate and penetrate from the greatest 
distance. And the sun, too, at such time as a 
cloud conceals his upper part, while the rays break 
out from below, appears to the sight bearded. 
Also, the body of nature is most rightly described 
as biform, on account of the difference of superior 
and inferior bodies. The former on account of 
their beauty, the equability, and constancy of their 


motion, as well as for their dominion over the earth 
and things of the earth, deserve to be represented 
under the human form : the latter for their irre- 
gularities and unharmonious motions, and because 
they are governed by the celestial, may be content 
with the figure of a brute animal. The same de- 
scription of his body relates also to the participa- 
tion of species. For no nature can be considered 
simple, but as it were a composition partaking of 
two principles. Thus the man has something of 
the brute, the brute of the plant, the plant of the 
inanimate (unorganized) body, and all things are 
in fact biform, and composed of an inferior and 
superior species. The allegory of the feet of the 
goat is a most acute one, on account of the ascend- 
ing motion of terrestrial bodies towards the regions 
of the air and heavens : for the goat is a climbing 
animal, and loves to hang from rocks and haunt 
among the precipices, as substances although des- 
tined for the inferior globe do in a strange manner, 
as is most evident in clouds and meteors. The 
insignia in the hands of Pan are two-fold, the one 
of harmony, the other of empire. The pipe of 
seven reeds evidently shews the concert and har- 
mony of things, or that concord mixed with dis- 
cord which is effected by the motion of the seven 
wandering stars. The crook is a noble metaphor, 
by reason of the ways of nature, which are partly 
straight and partly oblique. Especially, the stick 
or rod is crooked in its upper part, because the 


works of Divine Providence in the world are for 
the most part carried on by inflexions and am- 
bages ; so that one thing appears to be doing-, while 
another is, in fact, done ; as the selling of Joseph 
into Egypt, and such like events. Moreover, in 
every well conducted human government those who 
sit at the helm more happily bring to pass and in- 
sinuate the measures of popular convenience which 
they wish to carry into effect by means of assigned 
reasons, and oblique ways, than by direct introduc- 
tion, so that every rod or sceptre of empire is, in 
fact, crooked at the top. The vest or cloak of Pan 
is very ingeniously represented to have been of 
leopard's skin, on account of the spots which are 
scattered over it : for the heaven is studded with 
stars, the seas with islands, the earth with flowers, 
and even individual objects are for the most part 
varied on the superfices, which is, as it were, the 
vest of things. The office of Pan could not be so 
lively represented and explained by any other means, 
as by naming him the god of huntsmen; since 
every natural action, motion, and progress is no- 
thing more than a chase. Thus the sciences and 
arts hunt after their objects, the counsels of men 
after their ends, and all natural things hunt either 
after their nourishment for prey or their pleasures 
for indulgence, and that with cunning and sagacity. 

Torva leaena lupum sequitur; lupus ipse capellam ; 
Florentem cytisum sequitur lasciva capella. 

Pan is also the god of countrymen in general, 


because such men live more according to Nature, 
which is corrupted by excess of civilization in cities 
and palaces, to that point that the love verse of the 
poet becomes true : 

Pars minima est ipsa puella sui. 

Pan is especially the presider over mountains, 
because in mountains and lofty places the nature 
of things is expanded and more effectually subjected 
to the vision and imagination. That Pan is the 
second messenger of the gods after Mercury, is 
plainly a divine allegory; since, next to the word 
of God, the image of the universe itself is the 
masterpiece of divine wisdom. As the celestial 
poet hath sung, The heavens declare the glory of 
God, and the firmament sheweth his handiwork. 
— Pan delights himself in the nymphs ; that is 
in souls, for the souls of the living are the beauty 
of the world : and he is with justice called their 
governor, as they follow each its own nature as a 
guide, and dance and lead their revels around it 
with unceasing motion, infinite variety, each as it 
were after the manner of its own country. Toge- 
ther with them the Satyrs and Sileni perpetually 
accompany him ; age, namely, and youth : for to 
all things there is one age, as it were, cheerful and 
active ; another, slow and gluttonous : and the 
studies equally of both ages, to one who truly con- 
templates them with the spirit of Democritus, will 
appear ridiculous and deformed, like a Satyr or 


Silenus. In panic terrors, a most wise doctrine is 
expounded. For fear and dread is instilled by the 
nature of the universe into all living things, as a 
preservation power to preserve their life and exist- 
ence, and to avoid and drive off coming evils : but 
this same nature preserves no just measures, but 
ever mixes with salutary fears, vain and empty ones, 
so that all things, could we but see their internal 
reality, are full of panic terrors; especially human 
things, which labour under the infinite weight of 
superstition (which is, in truth, nothing but a panic 
terror), especially in difficult times of adversity. 
What is narrated of the boldness of Pan, and his 
battle by challenge with Cupid, relates to this : 
that matter is not destitute of a certain propensity 
and appetite towards the dissolving of the universe 
and its falling back into the ancient chaos, were 
it not that by the overpowering concord of things, 
(signified by Love or Cupid) its malice and violence 
are restrained and compelled to order ; therefore 
it is by a happy destiny of man and of things, that 
Pan finds the issue of the contest adverse and de- 
parts conquered. To this too belongs the story of 
the catching Typhon in a net ; because by various 
means there occur diverse swellings of things (as 
is signified by the name Typhon), whether of the 
seas or clouds, or other things, but Nature with an 
irresistible net implicates and subdues these exu- 
berances and perversities of matter, and binds it as 
with adamantine fetters. That the discovery of 


Ceres is attributed to this god, and that in hunting*, 
and is refused to the other gods, although seeking 
her earnestly, and employed on that very pursuit, 
contains a true and prudent admonition, that the 
invention of things useful for life and cultivation 
is not to be sought for from abstract philosophers 
as it were from the Di Majores, although they em- 
ploy all their faculties upon it; but only from Pan, 
that is, from sagacious experience and universal 
knowledge of the things of the world, which usu- 
ally hits upon such inventions by chance, and, as 
it were, when employed in hunting. But the con- 
test of music, and its decision, shew a useful doc- 
trine, and one which may serve to throw fetters on 
the pride and insolence of human judgment and 
reason. For there appeareth to be a double har- 
mony, or music ; the one of Divine Providence, the 
other of human reason. To human judgment, and, 
as it were, to the ears of men, the administration of 
the world and its events have a harsh and some- 
what dissonant sound ; an ignorance which is aptly 
designed by asses' ears, which are nevertheless 
borne in private and not openly. For the absur- 
dity of such judgment is not beheld or remarked 
by the vulgar. Lastly, it is not to be wondered 
that no love save that of Echo is attributed to Pan : 
for the universe enjoys itself, and in itself every- 
thing, and he who loves wishes to enjoy, nor is 
there room for desire in the midst of abundance. 
Therefore there can be no loves of the universe, nor 


desire of enjoyment, since itself sufficeth itself, ex- 
cept perhaps of words ; these are the nymph Echo, 
or, if more accurate, Syringa. Among words or 
languages, Echo alone is elegantly taien for the 
marriage of the universe ; for that alone is true 
philosophy which repeats the words of the universe 
itself with the utmost fidelity, and is written, as it 
were, by dictation of the universe, nor is anything 
else but its image and reflection, nor adds anything 
of its own, but repeats and iterates only. It is 
essential also to the self-sufficiency and perfection 
of the universe, that it hath no offspring. For it 
does mutually generate in its parts ; but how can 
it generate in the whole, since without it there is 
no body ? For concerning his supposed daughter, 
the handmaiden, that is truly a wise addition to 
the fable; for by her are represented those vain 
and wordy doctrines concerning the nature of things 
which are everywhere scattered at all times, which 
in reality are fruitless, in kind changelings, but by 
their variety sometimes pleasant, at other times 
troublesome and unseasonable. 



PERSEUS is said to have been sent by Pallas 
to slay Medusa, who caused great calamity to 
many nations of the west in the extremities of Hi- 
beria. For this monster was so dreadful and ter- 
rific that by its mere aspect it turned men into 
stone. This Medusa was the only mortal among 
the Gorgons ; the others, who were passive, were 
not so. Perseus, accoutring himself for so noble 
an adventure, received accordingly arms and gifts 
from three gods : the wings, called talares, from 
Mercury; from Pluto, a helmet; from Pallas -a 
shield and a mirror. However, although armed 
with such an equipment, he did not direct himself 
straightway to Medusa, but first turned off to the 
Grsese. These were sisters to the Gorgons by the 
mother's side. These Grseae were hoary and an- 
cient in appearance from their birth. They pos- 
sessed in common between them only one eye and 
tooth, which each as it happened to her to go from 
home, carried out with her, and restored again on 
her return. This eye and tooth they lent to Per- 
seus. Then, at length, thinking himself fully 
equipped to perform his destined task, he hastened 
with rapid flight to Medusa. Her he attacked 
sleeping ; for he did not dare to hazard the expo- 


sure of himself to her countenance, in case she 
should wake, but turning back his head, guided 
his stroke by the reflection from the mirror of Pal- 
las, he cut off her head. From the pouring forth 
of the blood of Medusa, a winged Pegasus imme- 
diately sprung forth. Her severed head was in- 
serted by Perseus into the shield given him by 
Pallas, its virtue still adhering to -it; so that all 
men, as if thunder- or planet-struck, stiffened into 
stone at its aspect. 

This fable appears to have been invented of the 
science and policy of war. And it proposes at the 
first deliberation concerning the undertaking of 
war, and the manner of carrying it on which is to 
be chosen, three wholesome and weighty precepts, 
worthy as it were of the counsel of Pallas. First, 
that no one should exert himself too strenuously 
for the subjugation of neighbouring nations. For 
the same rule does not apply to the increasing of 
patrimony and that of dominion. For in private 
possessions contiguity of estates is esteemed; but 
in the extension of empire, opportunity, and like- 
lihood of success in war, and profit resulting there- 
from, should stand in the place of contiguity. Thus 
the Romans, at a time when they had scarcely 
penetrated further than Liguria into the west, had 
embraced in their conquests and empire the pro- 
vinces of the east even to Mount Taurus. Thus 
Perseus, although an inhabitant of the east, did 
not refuse to undertake a distant expedition even 


to the extremity of the west. In the second, care 
should be taken that there be just and honourable 
cause of war. For this adds zeal both to the sol- 
diers and to the people, who bear the weight of the 
expense ; opens and conciliates alliances, and has 
many other conveniences. Nor can there be any 
more righteous cause of war than the overthrow of 
a tyrant, under whom his people lies prostrate 
and oppressed without spirit or vigour, as under 
the aspect of Medusa. Thirdly, it is wisely added, 
that, although there were three Gorgons (which 
represent wars), Perseus prudently chose the mor- 
tal one ; that is, a war of such a nature as might 
be carried through and brought to a certain end ; 
and did not follow after vague and indefinite hopes 
of conquest. The equipment of Perseus is that 
which alone prepares for war, and by which for- 
tune is almost compelled. He received swiftness 
from Mercury, secrecy of counsel from Arcus, and 
foresight from Pallas. Nor is it without an alle- 
gory, and that a most prudent one, that those wings 
of swiftness were attached to the heels and not to 
the shoulders ; because swiftness is not so much 
required in the first undertakings of war, as in those 
which follow and support them. For there is no 
error more frequently committed in warfare than 
that of not following up, and reinforcing the means 
of war with the vigour with which it was first en- 
tered into. The division of foresight also (for the 
allegory of the helmet of Pluto, which rendered 


men invisible, is a manifest one) into a shield and 
mirror is ingeniously contrived : for it is not only 
that foresight which guards like a shield, but the 
other part of it, which consists in watching the 
forces, motions, and counsels of the adversary (re- 
presented by the mirror of Pallas) which is to be 

But when Perseus is thus prepared to the fullest 
extent with forces and arms, there is one point 
remaining, of the first importance, before he com- 
mence his operations, namely to resort to the Graeae. 
The Graeae represent intrigues. These are the 
sisters of wars, not of the same blood, but, as it 
were, of inferior nobility. For war is honourable, 
intrigue base and infamous. The description of 
them is elegant ; that they are hoary and of an- 
cient appearance from their youth upwards, on ac- 
count of the perpetual cares and fears of traitors. 
And their force (before they burst out into open 
insurrection) lies either in the eye or in the tooth. 
For every faction or party becomes adverse to the 
government in any state, both spies and bites or 
corrodes. And this eye and tooth are, as it were, 
common to all. For what they discover and have 
intelligence of is transmitted through the hands of 
partizans from one member to another. And for 
the tooth, they bite with the same mouth, and sing 
the same tune > so that to hear one is to hear all. 
Thus these Graeae are to be conciliated by Perseus, 
that they may lend him their tooth and eye : the 


eye to acquire information, the tooth to disperse 
sedition and disaffection, and corrupt the minds of 
men. After these dispositions and preparations, 
follow actual hostilities. Here he finds Medusa 
sleeping : for the prudent undertaker of war makes 
a point of attacking an enemy when unprepared 
and in the most negligent security. And at 
this juncture the mirror of Pallas becomes need- 
ful ; for most men, before actual danger, can ex- 
amine the affairs of their enemies acutely and 
attentively ; but in the very article of danger the 
use of the mirror is most effective, that the manner 
of the danger may be seen, its terrors not be en- 
countered (which is signified by the averting of the 
head to look on the mirror). On the accomplish- 
ment of the war two effects follow: first, the pro- 
duction and awaking of Pegasus, who clearly de- 
notes fame, which flies to all quarters and pro- 
claims the victory. Secondly, the bearing Medusa's 
head on the shield ; since no kind of defence can 
be compared to this for its excellence. For one 
remarkable and memorable action happily carried 
on and effected checks all the movements of ene- 
mies, and renders stupid malevolence itself. 



THE shepherd Endymion is said to have been 
beloved by Luna, and the manner of their 
meetings was singular and extraordinary : for he 
was wont to sleep in a grotto near his native 
place, under the Latmian rocks; and Luna is said 
to have descended frequently from heaven, sought 
the embraces of her sleeping companion, and so 
returned again to heaven. Yet his indolence and 
sleep was no detriment to his fortunes : but Luna 
in the meanwhile took care that his herds should 
fatten and increase as prosperously as possible, so 
that no shepherd had more well-conditioned or 
more numerous flocks. This fable appears to re- 
late to the character and habitudes of princes. Be- 
ing full of cares and inclined to suspicion, they will 
not readily admit to their private familiarity men 
who are intelligent, curious, and of vigilant dispo- 
sition ; but rather men of a quiet and yielding nature, 
who submit to the will of their masters and enquire 
no farther, exposing themselves as men unconcern- 
ed, unsearching, insensible, and, as it were, asleep ; 
paying rather simple obedience than cunning ob- 
servance to their masters. With such men as 
these princes are accustomed to descend from their 
majesty, as the moon from her orbit, to lay aside 


their mask (the perpetual wearing of which becomes 
a sort of burden) and amuse themselves familiarly 
with them ; imagining that they may do this in 
safety. This was particularly remarked in Tibe- 
rius Caesar, a prince of all others most difficult of 
access ; with whom those only were favourites who 
did, in fact, make observation of his character, but 
preserved a perpetual simulation of stupidity. Such 
was also the custom of Lewis XI. King of France, 
a most crafty and prudent monarch. Nor is it 
without elegance that the fable introduces the cave 
of Endymion, because it is usually the custom with 
those who enjoy such favour with princes to have 
some pleasant retirements, to which they may in- 
vite them for the sake of leisure and relaxation, 
unencumbered by the weight of their dignity. 
Those who become in this manner favourites, are 
usually prosperous in their fortunes ; for the princes, 
although perhaps they do not raise them to honours, 
yet, since they love them with sincere affection, 
and not with a view to make use of them, are wont 
to enrich them with their munificence. 

266 wisdom or the ancients. 


THE poets relate that the giants, sprung- from 
the Earth, engaged in war against Jupiter and 
the gods, and were overthrown and subdued by- 
thunderbolts ; and that Earth, indignant against 
the gods, for the sake of revenge for her sons, 
brought forth Fame, the last sister of the giants. 

Illam Terra parens, ira irritata Deorum, 

Extremam (ut perhibent) Coeo Enceladoque sororem, 


The following appears to be the meaning of this 
fable : by Earth the nature of the common people 
is understood ; perpetually swelling up and rebel- 
lious against potentates, and constantly producing 
revolutions. This nature, when occasion offers, 
brings forth rebels and seditious men, who endea- 
vour with impious daring to disturb and overthrow 
princes. When these are overthrown, the same 
nature of the populace, favourable to the worst 
characters, and impatient of tranquillity, produces 
rumours, malignant whispers, and seditious com- 
plaints, declamatory libels, and such like, to excite 
hatred against those who are at the head of go- 
vernment : so that rebellious actions and seditious 
rumours differ in no respect from each other in race 
and family, but as it were only in sex, the latter 
appearing feminine, the former masculine. 



THE curiosity of men in hunting out secrets, 
and the ill directed appetite which induces 
them to desire and seek after the knowledge of 
them, is reproved by the ancients in two fables; 
the one of Acteeon, the other of Pentheus. Actaeon 
having seen Diana undressed, by chance, through 
his imprudence, was turned into a stag, and torn 
by the dogs which he nourished. Pentheus, who 
had ascended a tree, with intent to behold the se- 
cret sacrifices of Bacchus, was struck with mad- 
ness. This madness of Pentheus was of such a 
nature, that he imagined things to have become 
double, and that two Suns and two Thebes ap- 
peared before his eyes : so that as soon as he 
hastened towards Thebes, he was immediately re- 
called by the opposite vision of the city. And in 
this manner he was led up and down in perpetual 

Eumenidum veluti demens videt agmina Pentheus, 
Et Solem geminum, et duplices se ostendere Thebas. 

The first of these fables seems to relate to the 
secrets of princes ; the second, to divine secrets. 
For those who, without being admitted to the pri- 
vacy of princes, and, against their will, become 
possessed of their secrets, raise most certain hatred 


against themselves. Therefore, knowing that they 
are objects of suspicion, and occasions of ruining 
them sought after, they lead a timid and suspicious 
life, like that of deer. Moreover, it frequently 
happens that they are accused and ruined by their 
servants and domestics, for the sake of the prince's 
favour. For where the ill-will of a prince becomes 
apparent, there are to be found usually as many 
traitors as servants: and the fate of Actaeon awaits 
them. The calamity of Pentheus is of a different 
nature. For those who rashly dare to aspire, for- 
getful of their mortality, to celestial mysteries by 
the lofty summits of nature and philosophy (as by 
the ascent of a tree), the punishment declared 
against them is perpetual inconstancy of opinion, 
and a vacillating and perplexed judgment. And 
since there are two lights to them, that of Nature 
and that of religion ; hence it becomes to them as 
though they saw two suns. And since the actions 
of life, and decrees of the will depend upon the 
understanding*, they necessarily hesitate as much 
in will as in opinion, and never remain consistent 
to themselves. Thus, in like manner, they see a 
double Thebes : for under the name of Thebes are 
described the ends of actions (the house and refuge 
of Pentheus being at Thebes). Hence they re- 
main uncertain which way to turn themselves, and 
are doubtful and hesitating in momentous affairs, 
as if guided in each of them by sudden impulses of 
the mind. 



THE fable of Orpheus, which, although com- 
monly known, has not obtained in all its parts 
a faithful expositor, appears to designate the cha- 
racter of universal philosophy. The person of 
Orpheus, a most admirable and divine character, 
skilled in every mode of harmony, and able to con- 
quer and attract all things by his sweet numbers, 
may be applied by an easy transition to suit the 
description of philosophy. Thus the labours of 
Orpheus excel in dignity and magnitude the la- 
bours of Hercules, as the works of wisdom do the 
works of fortitude. Orpheus, led by his love for 
his consort, snatched from him by premature death, 
trusting to his lyre, conceived the enterprise of 
descending to the infernal regions, to recover her 
by entreaty from the shades. Nor did he fail in 
his hopes ; for, having appeased the manes by the 
charms of his verse and the delights of his melody, 
he so far prevailed as to obtain the power of lead- 
ing her back with him: yet, under the condition 
that she must follow him from behind, and that he 
must not look back until he has reached the con- 
fines of day. Nevertheless, urged by impatience 
of his love and anxiety, he broke the law almost in 
the very moment of safety, and his wife was pre- 


cipitously hurried back into the infernal regions. 
From that time Orpheus become a melancholy 
woman hater, betook himself to solitude, where by 
the same sweetness of his song and instrument he 
first drew round him all manner of wild beasts, 
and forced them to put off their very nature, for- 
get their passions, their ferocity, and the madden- 
ing stimulus of their lust, or desire for prey, until 
they stood round him like the spectators of a thea- 
tre, become calm and tame among themselves, 
and seeming to lend their ears to the harmony of 
his lyre. Nor was this all, for so great was the 
power and influence of music, that the very woods 
and stones were moved to relinquish their habita- 
tions, and take their seats around him in decent 
order and manner. Thus far he had proceeded 
successfully, with great admiration from all. At 
length the Thracian women, roused by the influ- 
ence of Bacchus, first blew a loud and hoarse blast 
from their horns, so that from the violence of the 
noise the sound of the Muses could no longer be 
heard : then only the spell which had been the 
uniting link of this orderly society being dissolved, 
tumult began ; all the beasts returned to their pris- 
tine natures, and attacked each other as formerly : 
nor did the stones and woods remain in their places, 
while Orpheus himself was finally torn to pieces 
by the raging women, and his relics scattered over 
the fields : through grief for whose death, Helicon, 
the river sacred to the Muses, hid his streams in 


indignation under the earth, and again raised his 
fountains in another' spot. The following seems 
to be the sense of the fable. 

The song of Orpheus is two-fold. First, that 
which appeases the shades ; second, that which 
draws round him the beasts and trees. The first 
is most aptly referred to natural, the second 
to moral and civil, philosophy. For by far the 
most noble object of natural philosophy, is the res- 
toration and reinvigoration of corruptible natures ; 
and (as lesser steps to serve for this purpose) the 
preservation of matter in its existing state, and 
the delaying of dissolution and decomposition. If 
this may ever be effected at all, it will certainly 
not be otherwise done than by exact and curiously 
sought refinements of nature, and accurate mea- 
sures, even like the harmony of a lyre. But this 
act, of all the most difficult, usually fails in its ef- 
fect ; and that probably not more from any other 
cause than from curious and unseasonable anxiety 
and impatience. Therefore philosophy, being 
scarcely competent to such an undertaking, betakes 
itself to human affairs, and, gradually instilling 
into the minds of men the love of virtue, justice, 
and peace, by its persuasive eloquence, it causes 
societies and nations to unite together, to receive 
the yoke of law, and submit themselves to its 
guidance, and become forgetful of their untame- 
able passions while they listen to precept and dis- 
cipline; from whence they afterwards proceed- to 


construct edifices, to lay the foundations of towns, 
to plant fields and gardens with trees : so that stones 
and woods are not unreasonably said to be called 
together and moved from their place. And this 
attention to the affairs of society is rightly placed 
in its due order, after the sedulous endeavour and 
late failure in the restoration of a mortal body ; 
because the clearer demonstration of the inevitable 
necessity of death encourages men to seek eter- 
nity by way of achievements and renown. It is 
also ingeniously added in the fable that Orpheus 
was averse to women and marriage, because the 
attractions of marriage and domestic charities do 
mostly hold men back from meriting great and ex- 
cellent things of their country, while they are con- 
tented in acquiring immortality through their off- 
spring, instead of through their actions. Never- 
theless, the works of wisdom herself, although 
they be most excellent among those of man, are 
yet subject to perish in a certain space of time. 
Thus it has happened that when kingdoms and 
commonwealths have flourished up to their hour, 
at length tumults, seditions, and wars arise ; among 
the disturbances of which first the laws fall silent, 
and men return to the original vice of their na- 
ture : and desolation is also seen in the cultivated 
lands and cities. And, in no short space of time, 
if this madness lasts, letters and philosophy her- 
self are sure to be torn in pieces, so that nothing 
but a few fragments of her are found in distant 


places, like the timbers of a shipwreck. Times of 
barbarism succeed, the waters of Helicon sink un- 
der the earth, until in the necessary mutations of 
things they burst out again, and flow forth, not 
perhaps, in the same places, but among other 


THE poets feign that Ccelus (Heaven) was the 
most ancient of the deities : that his parts of 
generation were cut off with a scythe by his son 
Saturn: that Saturn begat a numerous offspring 
but always devoured his sons : that Jupiter at last 
escaped from destruction, and that as soon as he 
grew up he thrust his father, Saturn, into Tartarus, 
and seized on his kingdom, having moreover cut off 
his genitals with the same scythe which Saturn 
had used against Ccelus, and cast them into the 
sea; from which Venus was born. After this, two 
memorable wars threatened the scarcely established 
kingdom of Jupiter. The first from the Titans, 
towards the reducing of whom, the assistance of 
Sol (who alone of the Titans embraced the cause 
of Jupiter) is said to have been very conducive. 
The second from the giants, who were routed by 
the thunderbolt and arms of Jupiter ; after whose 
conquest Jupiter reigned secure. The fable ap- 


pears to be an enigma concerning the original of 
things, not far different from the philosophy af- 
terwards adopted by Democritus, who most openly 
of all asserted the eternal nature of matter, and 
denied the eternity of the universe : in which he 
approached somewhat near to the truth expressed 
in the scriptures, in the history of which matter is 
said to have existed in an unformed state before 
the work of the six days. The meaning of the 
fable is as follows : heaven is that concave cir- 
cumference which incloses matter. Saturn him- 
self is matter, which deprives its parent of all pro- 
ductive power. The quantity of matter is always 
the same, nor does the sum of nature ever increase 
or diminish. The agitations and motions of matter 
first produced the imperfect and incoherent rudi- 
ments and elements of things, and essays as it 
were of worlds : at length, in the progress of time, 
a fabric grew, which had power to guard and pre- 
serve its own form. The first division, therefore, 
of time is signified by the kingdom of Saturn, who 
is said to be the devourer of his children, to re- 
present the frequent dissolutions and short dura- 
tion of forms of matter during its passage. The 
second by the kingdom of Jupiter, who thrust down 
these perpetually changing and transitory exist- 
ences into Tartarus, which signifies agitation. This 
place appears to be the middle space between the 
recesses of heaven and the interior of the earth ; 
in which interval change and frailty and mortality, 


or corruptibility, do chiefly inhabit. Under the 
former ages of the production of things which 
lasted through the reign of Saturn, Venus is said 
not to have existed. For while, through the uni- 
versal extent of matter, discord was stronger and 
more powerful than concord, an entire change in 
the fabric itself was necessarily taking place ; and 
thus the generations of matter continued, until the 
mutilation of Saturn. When this mode of gene- 
ration ceased, a new one immediately succeeded, 
which is effected by means of Venus,— the adult 
and powerful concord of things : so that change 
takes place only in parts, the main fabric remains 
entire and undisturbed. Saturn they relate to have 
been merely dethroned and exiled, not slain and 
annihilated; because it was the opinion of Demo- 
critus that the universe might relapse into its an- 
cient chaos and state of anarchy ; the accomplish- 
ment of which in his time Lucretius deprecated : 

Quod procul a nobis, flectat fortuna gubernans 
Et ratio potius, quam res persuadeat ipsa. 

When, however, the world was established on 
its own basis, and stayed by its own strength, still 
there was no rest at first. In the first place, mighty 
movements took place in the celestial regions, which 
by the virtue of the sun predominating among the 
celestial bodies were so made to cease, that the 
state of the universe still subsisted. Afterwards, 
like things happened in the inferior regions, by 


inundations, tempests, winds, and yet more by uni- 
versal earthquakes : by the subduing and suppres- 
sion of which the harmony and tranquillity of things 
grew more peaceful and durable. But of this fable 
both may be affirmed that the fable contains philo- 
sophy, and again the philosophy contains fable. For 
by faith we know that all this is no more than the 
long ago silent and failing oracles of sense ; since 
the matter and formation of the world are most 
truly referred to the Creator of all. 


THE poets relate that Proteus was shepherd to 
Neptune ; that he was aged, and a prophet : 
a prophet the most excellent and thrice greatest of 
all. For he knew not only the future, but the past 
and present also, so that besides his divination he 
was also the relator and expounder of all secrets 
and of all history. His habitation was under a vast 
cavern. There he was accustomed at noon to count 
his flock of Phocae, and then betake himself to 
sleep. Whoever was desirous to obtain his assist- 
ance for any undertaking, could prevail upon him 
by no means except by handcuffing and binding 
him with fetters. On the other hand, he, in order 
to free himself, would change himself into all man- 
ner of forms and prodigies, fire, water, shapes of 


beasts ; until at last he returned to his original 
figure. The interpretation of this fable appears to 
refer it to the secrets of nature and the laws of 
matter. Under the form of Proteus matter is 
signified, the most ancient of all things after God. 
Matter inhabits under the concave vault of heaven, 
like a cave. It is the slave of Neptune, because 
the operation and distribution of matter principally 
takes place in metals. The cattle, or flock, of 
Proteus appears to be no other than the ordinary 
race of animals, plants, and metals, in which mat- 
ter appears to divide and as it were consume itself: 
so that when it has formed and perfected these 
species, then, as having finished its task, it appears 
to lie in a quiescent state, and cease to essay, ima- 
gine, or form any further species. Such is the 
counting of the flock of Proteus, and his sheep. 
This is said to take place at noon, not in the morn- 
ing or evening : that is, when the time has come 
which is fully ripe, and as it were appointed by 
law for the perfection and cessation in further pro- 
duction of species out of predisposed and prepared 
matter, which is the middle time between their 
elements and their declension ; which we know 
sufficiently from holy writ to have been at the very 
time of the creation. Then, by virtue of the di- 
vine word "produce," matter collected together 
under the command of the creator, instantly, and 
not through its natural transformations, and im- 
mediately brought its work to completion and pro- 


duced species. Thus far the fable completes the 
relation of Proteus while he remains free and un- 
bound, together with his flock. For the universe, 
with its ordinary forms and structures of species, 
is the form of matter not bound or chained, and of 
the flock of material things. Nevertheless, if a 
skilful handler of nature apply force to matter, and 
torment and press it, as if with intent and deter- 
mination to reduce it to nothing, matter on the 
contrary (since its utter annihilation and destruc- 
tion can never take place except by the omnipotent 
will of God), being placed in these straits, twists 
and changes itself into a wonderful variety of shapes 
and transformations ; until it has gone through a 
circle of mutations, fulfilled its revolutions, and 
finally restores itself to its former shape, if the 
force be constantly applied to it. The addition of 
the fable, that Proteus was a prophet, and knew 
all the three forms of time, well consents with the 
nature of matter. For it is necessary that whoso- 
ever knows the accidents and processes of matter, 
must also know the sum of all things done, doing*, 
and to be done, although his knowledge may not 
extend to particulars and individuals. 



ACCORDING to the poets, Memnon was the 
son of Aurora. Brilliant in the beauty of 
his arms, and rich in popular favour, he came to 
the Trojan war, and, ardently hastening with rash 
daring to reach the highest prize, engaged in single 
combat with Achilles, the bravest of the Greeks, 
and fell by his hand. Jupiter, commiserating his 
fate, sent birds to attend his funeral, and pay ho- 
nour to his remains with a perpetual doleful and 
solemn strain ; and it is said that his statue when 
first touched by the rising sun was wont to emit a 
mournful sound. This fable appears to relate to 
the calamitous ends of young men of great promise . 
They are like the sons of the morning; and em- 
boldened by the brilliancy of empty and superficial 
appearances, they are impelled to darings beyond 
their strength, challenge the greatest heroes, pro- 
voke them to the field, and fail and perish in the 
unequal conflict. Their death is usually followed 
by infinite commiseration; for nothing among the 
accidents of the human race is so lamentable and 
so powerful to excite pity, as the bloom of courage 
cut down by a premature destruction. For the 
early age of the sufferers has not reached far enough, 
to excite indifference, or envy, which might tern- 


per the sorrow conceived for their fate, or diminish 
the pity felt towards them. Moreover, these la- 
mentations and sorrows do not merely flit like those 
funeral birds around their tomb, but this pity js 
lasting and protracted ; most of all, when oppor- 
tunities arise for changes and mighty enterprises, 
as at the rays of the rising sun, regret for their loss 
is again awaking. 


AN elegant fable is related concerning Tytho- 
nus : that he was beloved by Aurora, who being 
anxious for the perpetual enjoyment of his com- 
pany, asked of Jupiter, that Tythonus might never 
die ; but through feminine negligence she forgot 
to insert in her petition the condition, that he should 
never grow old. Thus the destiny of death was 
taken away from him, and a strange and pitiable 
old age was left him; such as might naturally 
come on one to whom death is denied, while the 
burden of age grows daily heavier; so that Jupiter, 
in pity for his lot, at length changed him to a 
grasshopper. This fable appears to be an ingeni- 
ous sketch, and allegorical representation of plea- 
sure ; which, in the beginning, (as in the time 
peculiar to Aurora) is so grateful to men, that they 
make vows to heaven that these joys may be theirs 


for ever, forgetting that satiety and weariness of 
them, as of old age, will come on them unawares; 
so that at last, when the act of pleasure is no longer 
possible to men, while their desires and affections 
remain, it usually happens that men receive plea- 
sure from the stories and relations of those things 
of which the reality delighted them in the vigour 
of their age. This we particularly observe in le- 
chers and soldiers ; the former of whom tell obscene 
tales, the latter recount their own exploits, like 
grasshoppers, whose vigour is in their voice alone. 


THE poets relate that Jupiter, who had assumed 
many and various forms to obtain the accom- 
plishment of his passions, as of a bull, an eagle, a 
golden shower : when he courted Juno, changed 
himself into the most ignoble figure, the most con- 
temptible and ridiculous shape which he could as- 
sume ; namely, that of a wretched cuckoo, wet 
through with rain and sleet, drooping, trembling, 
and half dead. This fable is most ingeniously de- 
rived from the most deep seated characteristics of 
men. The meaning of it is, that men should not 
too highly esteem themselves, imagining that the 
effects of their virtuous character will acquire fa- 
vour and reputation for them among all classes of 


men ; for that such success depends upon the na- 
ture and character of those whom they address and 
cultivate. If these are men of no parts or orna- 
ments, but simply of a proud and spiteful nature, 
(which^is represented by the figure of Juno) then 
they should be ready immediately to cease to act a 
part which bears the smallest appearance of dignity 
or grace : they must know that to persevere by any 
other means, is mere folly ; and that it will not be 
enough to endure the disgrace which necessarily 
attends flattery, unless they also put on a charac- 
ter entirely abject and dishonourable. 


THE various relations which are made of Cupid, 
or Love, by the poets, cannot properly be made 
to agree in one agent ; yet they differ in such a 
manner that the confusion of persons may be re- 
jected, their similitude retained. Thus they write 
that Love was the most ancient of all the gods, and 
consequently of all things, except chaos, which is 
represented coeval with him; but chaos, among the 
early writers, has never divine honours or the name 
of deity attributed to it. This Love is brought for- 
ward without any parents being mentioned, ex- 
cept that some relate that he was an egg produced by 
Night. He from chaos produced the gods, and the 


universe of things. He has four peculiar attributes : 
he is in a state of perpetual childhood, blind, naked, 
and an archer. There was indeed another Love, the 
youngest of the gods, the son of Venus ; who has 
also the attributes of the elder love transferred to 
him : and the two characters in some manner agree. 
This fable refers to the rudiments of nature, and 
deeply investigates them. This Love is the appe- 
tite or stimulus of first created matter : or to speak 
more plainly, the natural movement of the atom. 
This that most ancient and single force, which 
frames and constitutes every thing out of matter. 
It is entirely destitute of parents : that is, un- 
caused : for the cause is, as it were, the parent of 
the effect : and of this first influence there can be 
no cause in Nature (excepting God always), for 
nothing can be before it in time : no efficient, no 
natural thing of a more general and known nature ; 
therefore no genus, or form : so that whatsoever 
this first agent be, it is positive and unorganized 
matter. And if its essence and process could be 
known, it could never be known through its cause ; 
because under God it is the cause of all causes, 
and itself causeless. Nor, perhaps, is its essence 
possible to be fixed and comprehended by human 
examination : so that it is with reason said to be 
an egg hatched by Night. Such certainly the, 
sacred philosopher pronounces it to be: "He hath 
made everything beautiful in their seasons, also he 
hath set the world in their meditations, yet man 


cannot find the work that God hath wrought, from 
the beginning even to the end : " for the ori- 
ginal law of Nature, or virtue of this Cupid, im- 
pressed upon the first particles of things by the 
Creator to produce coition, from the repetition and 
multiplication of which all the variety of Nature 
emerges and is composed, can possibly excite the 
meditations of man, but can never be the subject 
of his comprehension. The philosophy of the Greeks 
is found to have been more acute and laborious in 
investigating the principles of materially formed 
things; more negligent and unsatisfactory with 
regard to the laws of motion, in which all the vigour 
of generation consists : and on this point on which 
we treat it appears altogether blind and trifling. 
For the opinion of the peripatetics of the privative 
stimulus of nature scarcely goes beyond mere words, 
and rather represents than explains the case. Those 
who refer all to God, do well, indeed, but ascend 
by a leap, and not step by step. For no doubt 
there is a primary and single law in which nature 
agrees, subordinate to God: that very one, namely, 
which in the above text is pointed out in the sen- 
tence, "The work that God hath wrought from 
the beginning even unto the end." But Demo- 
critus, who considered this matter more deeply, 
having imagined an atom possessing neither di- 
mension nor figure, attributed to it one simple 
motion, namely, the cupido, or primary movement, 
and another relative motion. For he conceived all 


things to be borne by nature towards the centre of 
the universe ; while that which had more matter, 
being hurried more rapidly to the centre, struck 
off and repelled backwards that which had less. 
Yet this theory was too narrow, and comprehended 
less than it should have done. For neither the 
circular revolutions of the celestial bodies, nor the 
contraction and expansion of things can be reduced 
or accommodated to this principle. Again, the 
opinion of Epicurus, of the declension of the atom, 
and its agitation by the operation of chance, re- 
lapses into trifling and ignorance. Thus it appears 
far clearer than we might wish, that this Cupid is 
involved as yet in darkness. Let us now consider 
his attributes : Cupid is elegantly represented as a 
little child in perpetual infancy. For composed 
bodies are larger, and subject to the effects of time : 
but the first seeds of things, or atoms, are diminu- 
tive, and remain in perpetual childhood. It is also 
said with great truth, that he is naked ; since all 
composed bodies, to one who thinks justly, appear 
concrete and clothed with Reason ; and nothing is 
properly naked except the first particles of things. 
The allegorical blindness of Cupid is also a wise 
invention : for this Cupid, whoever he is, appears 
to have very little foresight ; but to direct his steps 
and motions according to whatever he feels nearest 
to him, as the blind find their way by the touch ; 
by which so much the more admirable is the su- 
preme providence of God, which produces, by a 


certain and immutable law, out of things most blind, 
most destitute and void of foresight, the existing 
order and beauty of things. The last attribute 
given him is that of being an archer, that is, that 
his influence is such as to operate by nature at a 
distance : for that which operates at a distance, 
acts as if by sending forth an arrow ; and whoever 
supposes an atom, or a vacuum, necessarily in- 
troduces the distant influence of an atom ; for if 
this be taken from it, no motion could be excited 
by reason of the interposition of the vacuum, and 
all would rest torpid and immovable. As to the 
younger Cupid, he is rightly represented as the 
youngest of the gods, since he could not flourish 
before the constitution of species. In the descrip- 
tion of him the allegory is bent and brought round 
to the character of man. Yet he has a certain 
conformity with the more ancient Cupid. Venus 
excites the general appetite of union and procrea- 
tion : Cupid, her son, directs this affection to an 
individual object. The general disposition is the 
work of Venus, the more exact sympathy that of 
Cupid : the former depends upon more superficial 
causes ; the latter on higher and more important 
principles, and, as it were, descends from the an- 
cient Cupid, on w T hom all exquisite sympathy de- 



DIOMED being honoured with great and de- 
served glory, and the favourite of Minerva, 
was excited by her advice (and that more easily 
than he should have been) to refuse to spare Venus 
in case he should meet her in battle : which he 
boldly performed by wounding her in the right 
hand. For this daring action he remained at the 
time unpunished, and returned to his country fa- 
mous and illustrious in his exploits : where having 
suffered under domestic evils, he fled abroad into 
Italy. Here also he had a very fortunate begin- 
ning, and was honoured and enriched by the hos- 
pitality and munificence of king Daunus, and had 
many statues erected to him in that country. But 
upon the first calamity which befell the people 
among whom he abode, king Daunus immediately 
bethought himself that he had brought under his 
roof an impious man, an enemy and opponent of 
the gods ; who had attacked with weapons and 
wounded a goddess whom even to touch was for- 
bidden. Therefore, in order to free his country 
by the offering of a lustral sacrifice, without re- 
verencing the laws of hospitality, which appeared 
to him less ancient than the right of religion, he 
instantly slew Diomed; and commanded his statues 


to be thrown down, and his honours to be revoked. 
Nor was it allowed even to lament so heavy a mis- 
fortune with impunity : for his very companions, 
who were mourning* for the fate of their leader, and 
filling all places with their lamentations, were 
changed into certain birds resembling swans, which 
at the time of their death chaunt a sweet and me- 
lancholy strain. 

This fable has a rare and singular subject: for 
we have no relation of any other hero in fable, ex- 
cept Diomed only, who was said to have violated 
any of the gods with his arms. And in his cha- 
racter the fable appears to represent the image and 
fortunes of a man who professedly proposes and 
sets before himself this object for his endeavours, 
namely, to attack and overcome by arms and vio- 
lence any form of worship, or religious sect, even 
a vain and unreasonable one. For although the 
bloody wars of religion were unknown to the an- 
cients, (since the Heathen deities were not affected 
with that jealousy which is the attribute of the true 
God) yet such and so extensive seems to have been 
the wisdom of the early ages, that they were able 
to comprehend by meditation, and express in alle- 
gory what they could not know by experience. 
Those, then, who attempt not to correct and con- 
vince by force of reason and doctrine, sanctity of 
life, and weight of authorities and examples, any 
religious sect, although a vain, corrupt, and infa- 
mous one (which is signified in the person of Ve- 



nus), but strive to root out and exterminate it by 
sword and fire and cruel punishments; are perhaps 
inflamed to this degree by Pallas, that is, by a cer- 
tain cold prudence and severity of judgment, by the 
force and efficacy of which they clearly see through 
the fallacies and absurdities of these errors ; added 
to hatred of wickedness and just zeal. And it may 
happen that at the time they acquire much glory, 
and among the people, to whom moderate measures 
are never grateful, are celebrated and almost 
adored as the only true champions of truth and re- 
ligion ; all others appearing lukewarm and timid. 
But this glory and felicity rarely abide to the end : 
and almost all violence w r hich does not escape by 
a speedy death the vicissitudes of fortune, fails in 
prosperity at last. If it should happen that a change 
take place in affairs, and the oppressed and perse- 
cuted sect acquires strength and rises again, then 
the contentious zeal of such men is condemned, 
their very name is an object of hatred, and all their 
honours end in ignominy. The slaughter of Diomed 
by his host signifies that difference of religion 
excites hatred and treason even between the dear- 
est friends : and that the grief and lamentations of 
his comrades were not endured, but punished, is 
intended to admonish men, that in almost every 
crime there is room left for pity; so that those 
who detest the act, yet commiserate the persons 
and sufferings of the guilty, through humanity : 
and that it is the last of evils, to interdict the com- 


munication of pity. Yet in cases of irreligion and 
impiety, even the commiseration of men is marked 
and becomes suspicious. On the other hand, the 
complaints and lamentations of the companions of 
Diomed, that is, of men who embrace the same 
sect and opinion, are usually very shrill and har- 
monious, as those of swans or the birds of Diomed : 
in which respect also that last part of the allegory 
is excellent and admirable : that the voices of those 
who suffer for the sake of religion, at the time of 
their death, like the songs of swans, soften the 
minds of men in a wonderful manner, and remain 
long infixed in their memory and feelings. 


MECHANICAL science and industry, and the 
unlawful artifices which are employed by a 
bad use of them, are shadowed out by the ancients 
under the character of Daedalus, a most ingenious, 
but execrably bad character. This man was ban- 
ished for the murder of a rival and fellow student, 
but became in his exile a friend to kings and cities. 
And he had indeed built and framed many exqui- 
site edifices, both for the honour of the gods, and 
the magnificence and adornment of cities ; but his 
name is principally famous for his illicit workman- 
ship. He built a fabric to minister to the lust of 


Pasiphae, that she might be united there with a bull ; 
so that from the wicked industiy and mischievous 
ingenuity of this man, the monster Minotaur, 
which devoured the free youth of Athens, drew his 
ill-fated and infamous origin. To conceal evil by 
accumulating evil upon it, for the security of this 
pest, he imagined and constructed the labyrinth : 
a work wicked in its intent and destination, won- 
derful and renowned for its excellence of art. 
Lastly, that he might not become known merely 
for his evil stratagems, and that remedies, as well as 
instruments of wickedness, might be in his gift, he 
was the inventor of the ingenious artifice of the clue 
of thread by which the windings of the labyrinth 
might be retraced. This Daedalus Minos pursued 
with great severity and diligence of inquisition : 
but he always found means of escape and places of 
refuge. At length, when he had taught his son 
Icarus the art of flying, the novice, ostentatious 
of his powers, fell from the air into the sea. 

The allegory appears to be of the following na- 
ture : in its very opening, the envy which watches 
the acts of excellent workmen, and possesses won- 
derful influence, is marked out ; for no kind of 
men suffers so much under envy, and that of the 
most bitter and unrelenting nature. A hint is 
added of the impolitic and improvident nature of 
the punishment of Daedalus, namely, by banish- 
ment. For it is the peculiar excellence of good 
artificers, that they are most acceptable to every 


people ; so that banishment can hardly be inflicted 
as a punishment on a skilful mechanic. For other 
conditions and kinds of life cannot easily be en- 
joyed out of our country. But the admiration of 
artificers is propagated and increased among foreign 
people, since it is natural to man to undervalue the 
talents of his own fellow citizens in mechanical 
arts. What follows concerning the use of these 
arts, is manifest; for human life owes much to 
them, since from their treasures much is brought 
for the celebration of religion, much for public 
magnificence, and for general civilization. Never- 
theless, from the same source are brought instru- 
ments of lust and cruelty. For we well know (to 
omit the wiles of procurers) how far our exquisite 
poisons, our military artillery, and such destroying 
engines, surpass the Minotaur himself in cruelty 
and destructiveness. The allegory of the labyrinth 
is also a very beautiful one, in which general na- 
ture is sketched out in relation to mechanics. For 
all mechanic inventions which are ingenious and 
exquisite may be regarded as a labyrinth ; for their 
subtlety and various involutions, and apparent si- 
militude in things, the difference between which 
can hardly be traced or discriminated by any 
acuteness of judgment, but only by the clue of ex- 
perience. Nor is it less fitly added, that the same 
person who invented the windings of the labyrinth 
also shewed the application of the clue : for the 
mechanic arts are as it were of twofold use, and 


serve both for mischief and remedy, and their vir- 
tue does for the most part dissolve and unravel its 
own secrets. Minos is said frequently to prosecute 
these illicit artifices, and therefore the arts also ; 
that is, the laws, which condemn them and inter- 
dict the use of them to the people. Nevertheless, 
they are concealed and retained, and have every- 
where both their hiding places and refuge, which 
was also well remarked in a subject of much the 
same nature in his time by Tacitus, speaking of the 
judicial astrologers and Genethliacs : a race of men, 
he says, who will be ever maintained and ever pro- 
hibited in our city. And yet illicit and curious 
arts of any kind fall in length of time from their 
reputation (as Icarus from heaven), are reduced to 
contempt, and perish by too great ostentation of 
themselves, being generally unable to perform what 
they have promised. And certainly, if the whole 
truth is to be said, they are not so successfully put 
down by restraints of law, as refuted by their 
own want of success. 


THE poets fable that Vulcan made an attempt 
on the chastity of Minerva, and with inflamed 
desires offered her violence, and that in the strug- 
gle his seed fell on the ground, from which Eric- 


thonius was born, who in his upper parts was comely 
and well knit, but his thighs and legs ended in the 
resemblance of an eel, small and deformed. Of 
this deformity being himself conscious, he was the 
first who invented the use of chariots, by which 
means he might shew what was well made of his 
form, and conceal at the same time his disgrace. 
Of this strange and monstrous fable the following 
appears to be the signification. Art (which is re- 
presented under the person of Vulcan, on account 
of the numerous uses of fire) as often as, by vari- 
ous mutation of corporeal substances, it attempts 
to do violence to Nature, and conquer and subdue 
her (Nature being shadowed out under the charac- 
ter of Minerva,, for the variety of her works), rarely 
attains the destined object of its wish : yet in its 
great machinations and strivings, (as in a struggle) 
certain imperfect productions and mutilated works 
are brought forth, specious in appearance, in use 
weak and halting, which nevertheless impostors use 
to shew about with much deceitful ostentation, and 
carry, as it were, in triumph. Such we may fre- 
quently observe among chemical productions and 
among mechanical tricks and novelties ; especially 
when men, more pressing on to their object than 
retracing their steps from error, rather struggle 
with nature than seek its embraces with just obe- 
dience and observance. 



THE poets relate that when the whole of the 
inhabitants of the ancient world were en- 
tirely extinguished by a universal deluge, and 
Deucalion and Pyrrha alone remained, who were 
inflamed with a glorious and pious desire of re- 
storing the human race, they received an oracle 
of the following purport, that they should obtain 
their wish if they would take up the bones of their 
mother, and cast them behind them, which at first 
filled their minds with sadness and despair ; since 
the face of the earth having been completely al- 
tered by the deluge, to seek her tomb would be 
an entirely fruitless attempt; but at length they 
discovered that the stones of the earth (since the 
earth is called the common mother of all) were 
signified by the oracle. This fable appears to be 
a key to the secrets of nature, and intended to 
correct an error deeply fixed in the mind of man, 
for the ignorance of man imagines that the re- 
newals or restorations of things can be effected 
from their remnants in a state of decomposition, 
as the Phoenix is raised from its own ashes, which 
is not at all convenient to nature, since matter of 
this description has already performed its office, 
and is utterly insufficient for the generation of 
things. Thus we must recur to more common 



NEMESIS is said to be a goddess to be ve- 
nerated by all men, and to be feared also 
by the rich and powerful. She is called the daugh- 
ter of Night and Ocean ; her figure is described 
after the following manner : — She was winged, and 
wore a crown ; she bore in her right hand an 
ashen spear, in her left a phial in which iEthiops 
were confined, and was mounted on a deer. The 
allegory seems to be thus explained : The name 
Nemesis signifies manifestly enough, Vengeance 
or Retribution, for the office and ministry of this 
goddess consisted in this, that she should inter- 
pose her veto, like a tribune of the people, against 
the constant and unvarying prosperity of the for- 
tunate ; and not only chastise insolence, but pay 
off prosperity, even though moderate and inno- 
cently acquired, with alternate seasons of adver- 
sity, as if it were a custom that no one under the 
laws of humanity could be admitted to the feasts 
of the gods, except to be made mock of. And I 
indeed, when I read that chapter in C. Pliny, in 
which he collects the ill accidents and misfortunes 
of Augustus Csesar, him whom I was wont to look 
upon as the most fortunate of all men, who had 
also a peculiar art of enjoying his good fortune, 
in whose mind there was no vain exaltation, no 


levity, no effeminacy, no indecision, no melancholy 
to be remarked, (even so that he had determined 
to put an end at some time to his own life) did 
truly judge that Goddess to be a most mighty and 
powerful one, to whose altar such a victim as this 
was to be dragged. The parents of this Goddess 
were Ocean and Night, that is, the Vicissitudes of 
Things, and the obscure and secret counsel of 
God ; for the changes of things are aptly repre- 
sented by the Ocean in his everlasting flux and 
reflux, and occult Providence is well designated by 
Night. For among the Gentiles also that noctur- 
nal Nemesis, who appeared wherever the judg- 
ment of God seemed to differ from that of man, 
was matter of observation. 

cadit et Ripheus, justissimus unus 

Qui fuit in Teucris, et servantissimus aequi, 
Diis aliter visum- 

Nemesis is represented winged, from the sud- 
denness and unexpectedness of the changes of 
things ; for throughout the memory of man it is 
mostly wont to happen, that great and prudent 
men have perished under those trials which they 
most especially contemned. Certainly, when M. 
Cicero was admonished by Decius Brutus of the 
insincerity and concealed malice of Octavius 
Coesar, he merely answered, " You my Brutus I 
love as I should, for having chosen that I should 
be informed even of these trifles, whatsoever they 


are." Nemesis is distinguished also by a crown, 
on account of the envious and malicious nature of 
the populace, for when the fortunate and power- 
ful fall, then the populace exults, and honours 
Nemesis with a crown. The spear in her right 
hand refers to those whom she strikes and trans- 
fixes with it ; and to those whom she does not visit 
w r ith calamity and misfortune, she nevertheless 
shews that ill omened and dark vision which she 
holds in her left hand : for beyond a doubt, to 
those who are placed even at the summit of feli- 
city, the thoughts do frequently occur of death and 
disease, and misfortune, and the faithlessness of 
friends, and the evil counsel of enemies, and simi- 
lar evils ; as the iEthiops in the phial. Certainly 
Virgil, in describing the battle of Actium, elegantly 
adds concerning Cleopatra : 

Regina in mediis ; patrio vocat agmina sistro, 
Nee dum etiam geminos a tergo respicit angues. 

But within a very short time, whichever way 
she turned herself, whole armies of iEthiops ap- 
peared before her. At the end it is wisely added, 
that Nemesis sits on a stag ; since the stag is a 
particularly vivacious animal, and it may perhaps 
happen, that he who is snatched away by fate 
young, overtakes and escapes from Nemesis ; but 
he who obtains a lasting prosperity and power, 
must doubtless at last be subjected to, and as it 
were mounted by the goddess. 



THE ancients write, that when Hercules and 
Achelous were contending for the hand of 
Dejanira, their rivalry ended in a conflict, Ache- 
lous, after trying his chance under various and 
constantly changing forms, (for this he had power 
to do) at length engaged with Hercules under the 
form of a fierce and roaring bull, and prepared 
himself for battle ; but Hercules, retaining his 
wonted human figure, rushed upon him. After a 
close fight, the end was, that Hercules broke off 
one of the horns of the bull, who, hurt and terri- 
fied to a great degree, in order to redeem his horn, 
made over to Hercules by way of ransom the horn 
of Amalthea, or of plenty. This fable pertains to 
warlike expeditions. The preparations to war by 
the defensive party (which is represented by 
Achelous), are various and multiform ; for there 
is one simple plan, and one only, for the invader's 
force, which consists entirely of army or fleet, as 
the case may be ; while the realm which expects 
the enemy on her own soil, makes infinite efforts, 
fortifies and dismantles her towns, collects her po- 
pulation from the fields and villages into her cities 
and forts, breaks down and pulls to pieces bridges, 
prepares magazines and supplies, distributes them, 


busies herself in her rivers, harbours, ravines, 
woods, and innumerable circumstances, so as to 
put on every day a new face ; and when at last 
she is abundantly fortified and prepared, she re- 
presents to the life the figure and terrors of a pug- 
nacious bull. He, on the other hand, who invades, 
seeks occasions of battle, and presses for it as 
much as possible, fearing want of supplies in a 
foreign land ; if it should happen that he comes 
off victor in battle, and breaks as it were the horn 
of his enemy, he obtains this advantage : that the 
enemy, oppressed with terror and diminished in 
reputation, in order to put himself in order and 
repair his forces, retires within his fortifications, 
and leaves cities and provinces to be depopulated 
and ravaged by the victor, which may be truly 
welcomed equal in importance to that horn of 


THEY relate that Semele, the mistress of Jupi- 
ter, having bound him by an inviolable oath 
to grant her any boon that she might require, 
asked that he would come to her embraces in such 
form as he was wont to seek those of Juno. Thus 
she perished in his lightnings. But the infant 
whom she bore in her womb was taken up by his 


father, and sewn into his thigh until the months 
of gestation were completed, a burden which 
caused Jupiter to limp not a little, on which ac- 
count the boy, from having caused oppression and 
pain to Jupiter while borne in his thigh, received 
the name of Dionysus (Bacchus.) As soon as he 
was brought forth he was committed to the charge 
of Proserpine for some years ; but when grown up 
he was seen to have an extremely feminine coun- 
tenance, so that his sex seemed doubtful from his 
appearance ; he also died and was buried for some 
time, and revived within a short space. In his 
earliest youth he discovered the cultivation of the 
vine, and thence first taught the composition of 
wine ; become by this means celebrated and re- 
nowned, he conquered the whole world, and ex- 
tended his victories as far as the extreme bounds 
of India. He was borne in a car drawn by tigers ; 
around him danced a troop of deformed dsemons, 
called Cobali (Kobolds), Acratus, and by other 
names. The Muses also added themselves to his 
procession. He took for his wife Ariadne, who had 
been deserted and left by Theseus. His sacred 
tree was the ivy. He was also held to be the in- 
ventor and constitutor of sacred rites and ceremo- 
nies, but all of a fanatical nature, and full of per- 
versions, and moreover of cruelty. He had also 
the power of inflicting madness. In his orgies 
celebrated by women agitated by frenzy, two illus- 
trious men, Pentheus and Orpheus, are reported 


to have been torn to pieces, the one when he had 
ascended a tree to become spectator of the rites 
which were carried on, the other while he struck 
his lyre ; and the actions of this god are frequently 
confounded with those of Jupiter. 

The fable appears to belong to ethical science, 
and it is one than which nothing better can be 
found in moral philosophy. Under the person of 
Bacchus, the nature of Passion or Desire, and the 
agitation caused by it is represented. Now the 
mother of all Passion, even the most mischievous, 
is no other than the appetite and desire of an ap- 
parent good. Passion is always conceived in an 
illicit wish, already rashly yielded to before it is 
examined and understood. When once the desire 
has begun to kindle, its mother (the Nature of 
Good) is destroyed, and perishes in the conflagra- 
tion; and while passion is immature, it is both 
brought up and concealed in the human soul, 
(which is its producer, and is represented by Ju- 
piter), especially in the inferior portion of the 
soul (as in the thigh), where it pricks, agitates, 
and oppresses the soul, so that its steps and actions 
become halt and impotent. Even when it hath 
been confirmed by consent and habit, and breaks 
forth into action, it is nevertheless educated until 
its time by Proserpine, that is, it seeks hiding 
places, and exists clandestinely, and as it were 
under the earth, until, throwing off the reins of 
shame and fear, and endowed with full grown vio- 


lence, it either assumes the pretext of some virtue, 
or despises all infamy. It is also very true, that 
every vehement passion is as it were of doubtful 
sex, for it has the violence of man combined with 
the impotence of woman. It is also excellently 
added, that Bacchus is revived after death, for 
our passions appear sometimes to be set to sleep 
and extinguished ; but we must not trust them 
even when buried, since when matter and occasion 
are afforded they rise again. The invention of the 
vine is a wise allegory, for every passion is inge- 
nious and sagacious in seeking out for objects to 
inflame it, and above all things discovered by 
man, wine is the most powerful and efficacious to 
inflame and excite perturbations of every descrip- 
tion, and acts as a common provocation to all of 
them. Passion is also elegantly described as a 
conqueror of provinces, and engages in endless 
enterprises, for it is never content with what it 
has acquired, but presses onwards with infinite and 
insatiable appetite, and aims at new conquests. 
Tigers too are nourished by the passions, and 
yoked to their car ; for when once a passion has 
become a rider instead of a pedestrian, and ap- 
peared the conqueror and triumphant adversary of 
reason, it is savage, indomitable, and unmerciful 
against every thing w T hich opposes or checks it. 
It is wittily said, that those comic dsemons dance 
around this car ; for every passion cause th inde- 
corous, unmeasured, ridiculous, and disgraceful 


motions in the eyes, countenance, and action. 
Thus he who, under the influence of any passion, 
as Love or Pride, appears to himself grand and 
magnificent, is to others deformed and ridiculous. 
The muses also are beheld among the company of 
passion, for there is scarcely any passion to be 
found to which some science does not make itself 
subservient ; for in this the license of men's wits 
diminishes the majesty of the muses ; in that they 
who should be the guides of life, become the fol- 
lowers of passion. It is also a very noble alle- 
gory, that Bacchus pours forth his love on her 
who has been deserted by another, for it is most 
certain that passion desires and covets that which 
experience has repudiated ; and let all know, who, 
indulging and meanly serving their own appetites, 
raise to unmeasured honours the object they wish 
to enjoy, be it honour, or fortune, or love, or glory, 
or wisdom, or what else they will, that they are 
seeking after cast off things, a leaving of those 
who through all ages have been satiated and dis- 
gusted with them after full experiment. The de- 
dication of the ivy to Bacchus is also not without 
a mystery. For this agrees in two senses ; first, 
because the ivy is green in winter, second, because 
it creeps, twines, and raises itself round so many 
objects, trees, walls, and buildings. For the first, 
every passion flourishes and acquires vigour by 
resistance and impediment, as the ivy in the frosts 
of winter. For the second, the predominant pas- 


sion, like ivy, twines itself around all human ac- 
tions and human decisions, adds, unites, and mixes 
itself with them. Nor is it wonderful that super- 
stitious rites are attributed to Bacchus, since al- 
most every bad passion luxuriates in depraved 
superstitions : or that madness is said to be caused 
by him, since every passion is not only itself a 
short madness, but if it besieges and presses its 
possessor with its utmost vehemence, terminates in 
insanity. The story of the fate of Pentheus and 
Orpheus has an evident signification : namely, 
that passion when too powerful is a bitter enemy 
both to meddling curiosity, and to free and whole- 
some admonition. Finally, the confusion of the 
persons of Bacchus and Jove may be rightly drawn 
to an allegory ; since noble and renowned actions, 
and illustrious and glorious deserts, although 
equally honoured with fame and praise, may some- 
times proceed from virtue and reason, sometimes 
from hidden passion and secret appetite, so that it 
is not easy to distinguish the actions of Bacchus 
from the actions of Jupiter. 


ATALANTA, excelling in swiftness, chal- 
lenged Hippomenes to a trial of the course. 
The conditions of the contest were, that Hippo- 
menes, if victor, should wed Atalanta, if conquered, 


should die. And no doubt appeared as to the victory, 
since the insuperable excellence of Atalanta in the 
course had been rendered illustrious by the death 
of many. Hippomenes, therefore, had recourse to 
stratagem. He prepared three golden apples, and 
kept them about him. The contest began : Ata- 
lanta passed him ; he, seeing himself left behind, 
not unmindful of his art, threw down one of his 
golden apples before the sight of Atalanta, not in 
the straight way, but on one side, so that it might 
both delay her and lead her out of the path. She, 
incited by female cupidity, or by the beauty of the 
apple, leaving the course, ran after the apple, and 
bent to pick it up : Hippomenes, in the mean- 
while, passed over no small space of the course, 
and left her behind him ; yet she, by her natural 
swiftness, recovered her loss of time, and again 
overtook him : but when Hippomenes had the 
second and third time caused her the same delay, 
he came off conqueror at length, by cunning and 
not by excellence. 

This Fable appears to contain a notable allegory 
of the contest between art and nature. For art, 
represented by Atalanta, if there be no obstacle or 
impediment, is far more acute than nature, and, as 
it were, swifter in the course, and reaches sooner 
its goal. For this appears in almost all its effects : 
we see that fruit rises slowly from the kernel, 
quickly from planting : we see that earth hardens 
slowly in petrifaction, quickly in brickmaking. 


Even in moral science, length of time, as it were 
by the favour of nature, brings slowly on forge t- 
fulness and comfort in evils : while Philosophy, 
which is the art of living, does not wait the course 
of time, but overtakes it, and acts in its place. 
But this prerogative and excellence of art, to the 
infinite detriment of human affairs, is counteracted 
by the golden apples : nor do we find a single art 
or science which carries on its true and legitimate 
course without ceasing till it reach its object, 
which is as the goal of its labours ; but all the arts 
leave off what they have begun, and desert their 
course, and turn aside, like Atalanta, to gain and 

Declinat cursus, aurumque volubile tollit. 
Therefore, we must not wonder if art does not 
attain to the conquest of nature, and to her over- 
throw and destruction, according to the compact 
and law of the contest : but the opposite takes 
place, and art is under the power of nature, and 
obeys it as a married woman her husband. 


THE ancient tradition is, that man was the crea- 
tion of Prometheus, and made of earth, ex- 
cept inasmuch as Prometheus mixed with the mass 
certain particles from different animals. He, wish- 


ing to maintain his own work by his own benefits, 
and to appear not only as the founder of the human 
race, but as its exalter, ascended clandestinely to 
Heaven, bearing* combustibles with him on a rod, 
which he lit by applying them to the chariot of 
the sun, and thus brought down fire to earth, and 
communicated it to man. For this great favour 
of Prometheus, men appear to have been little 
grateful ; on the contrary, they conspired against 
him, and accused him and his invention at the tri- 
bunal of Jupiter. This complaint appears not to 
have been received as justice required ; for the 
accusation was too pleasing to Jupiter and the 
gods themselves. Therefore, for the pleasure they 
received, they not only allowed the use of fire to 
mortals, but conferred on them also a new gift, 
the most acceptable and delightful of any, namely, 
perpetual youth. In their pride and folly, men 
placed the gift of the gods on an ass. The ass on 
his return was labouring under great and vehement 
thirst: and when he reached the brink of a foun- 
tain, a serpent, who was placed as the guardian of 
the spring, refused to let him drink, unless on con- 
dition of receiving whatever the animal carried on 
its back. The wretched ass accepted the condi- 
tions, and in this manner the power of perpetually 
renewing youth, for the price of a little draught of 
water, passed from men to serpents. But Pro- 
metheus, not relinquishing his craft, and being 
reconciliated with men after their loss of this gift, 


but retaining* an exasperated passion against Jupi- 
ter, dared to employ his cunning even in a sacri- 
fice. He is said to have immolated two bulls to 
Jupiter, in such fashion, that the flesh and fat of 
both were inserted into the hide of one, and the 
skin of the other stuffed out only with the bones 
and then, like a religious and well-intentioned 
man, gave Jupiter his choice between them. — 
Jupiter, detesting his cunning and bad faith, but 
looking for occasion to revenge himself on him, 
chose the counterfeit bull ; and, being inflamed 
with the desire of vengeance, conceiving* that he 
could not repress the insolence of Prometheus, ex- 
cept by afflicting the race of man (by whose crea- 
tion Prometheus was made proud and amazingly 
elated), he commanded Vulcan to form a beautiful 
lovely woman, on whom also each of the gods con- 
ferred a peculiar gift, on which account she was 
called Pandora. In the hands of this woman they 
placed an elegant box, in which they had inclosed 
all kinds of evils and troubles ; but hope remained 
lying at the bottom of the box. She, with her 
charge, first betook herself to Prometheus, tempt- 
ing him, to induce him to receive and open it? 
which he was cautious and crafty enough to reject. 
Repulsed from him, she turned to Epimetheus, 
brother to Prometheus, but of a very different dis- 
position. He, without delay, opened rashly the 
box ; and when he saw all those innumerable evils 
flying from it, too late made sensible of his error, 


he hurried and pressed to place the cover upon the 
box again, but with difficulty preserved hope, the 
last and lowest of its contents. Finally, Jupiter 
laying to Prometheus' charge many and heavy 
grievances, that he had formerly stolen fire from 
Heaven ; that he had mocked the majesty of Jupi- 
ter in his counterfeit sacrifice ; and that he had 
despised his gift; adding, also, a new accusation, 
that he had attempted to ravish Pallas ; threw him 
into chains, and condemned him to perpetual tor- 
ments. By the command of Jupiter, he was brought 
to Mount Caucasus, and there bound to a column, 
so that he could in no wise move himself : an eagle 
was set by him, which in the day tore and devoured 
his liver with his beak, while in the night as much 
as had been eaten grew again, so that there never 
was wanting matter for the torture. They say, 
however, that these sufferings were at last termi- 
nated ; for Hercules, in the cup which he had re- 
ceived from the Sun, having sailed over the ocean, 
arrived at Caucasus, and freed Prometheus, by 
piercing the eagle with his arrows. There were 
instituted among certain nations races of lamp- 
bearers, in honour of Prometheus, in which the 
runners carried lighted torches ; if those chanced 
to be extinguished, they yielded the victory to 
those who followed them, and retired from the 
course : and he at last received the palm who was 
the first to bring his torch lighted as far as the 


This fable both presents and conceals many true 
and weighty contemplations ; some of them have 
been already rightly treated of, others remain en- 
tirely untouched. By Prometheus, Providence is 
clearly and manifestly indicated. And among all 
the contents of the universe, the constitution and 
fabric of man has been chosen and related by the 
ancients, to be attributed to Providence as its pro- 
per work. Of this, not only appears to be cause of 
the opinion which man by nature conceives, that 
mind and intellect appear to be the seat of Provi- 
dence, and that it seems difficult and incredible to 
deduce and produce reason and mind from brute 
and irrational principles ; so that it is concluded of 
necessity, that Providence (or foresight) could not 
be implanted in the human soul without some ideal 
pattern and some act of the will, and authority 
of a higher Providence. The following also is 
plainly proposed : that man is as it were the centre 
of the universe, with relation to final causes, so 
that if man be removed from nature, all other 
things appear to fluctuate in endless error, and to 
be as it is called deprived of their tendency, and 
left without a scope to seek. For all things are 
subservient to man, and he draws forth and enjoys 
use and pleasure from each of them. The revolu- 
tions and periods of the stars apply both to the 
division of time and to the distribution of climates. 
Celestial appearances are employed for prognos- 
tics of weather, winds for navigation, for mills and 


machines, plants and animals of every descrip- 
tion, either for the houses and shelters of men, or 
for their garments, or their food, or their medi- 
cine, or to lighten their labours, or to delight and 
solace them, so that every thing appears not to 
act for its own utility, but for that of man. Nor 
is it without meaning added, that in that mass and 
composition, particles were taken from divers 
animals, and tempered and mixed with the earth ; 
since it is most true that of all things which the 
universe contains, man is the most complex and 
compound, so that he w T as not without reason 
called by the ancients a lesser world. For although 
the chymists have too absurdly and literally taken, 
and perverted, the elegance of the word Micro- 
cosm, where they suppose that in man there is 
found every mineral, every vegetable, and all things 
else, or something answering to them, ; neverthe- 
less, what we have said remains sound and true, 
that the human body is of all creatures the most 
compound and the most organized, whence it pos- 
sesses and acquires wonderful virtues and facul- 
ties ; for the powers of simple bodies are few, 
although sure and quick in action, because least 
impeded, diminished, and balanced by mixture ; 
but quantity and excellence of virtue most exists 
in mixture and composition. And nevertheless 
man appears in his original to be an unarmed and 
helpless creature, slow to aid itself, and in want 
of almost every thing. Therefore Prometheus 


made haste to invent fire, which supplies and ad- 
ministers ease and assistance to almost all the 
necessities and actions of man ; so that if the soul 
be the form of forms, the hand the instrument of 
instruments, fire deserves to be called the aid of 
aids and the help of helps. For now this all in- 
dustry, all mechanical art, all science itself re- 
ceives assistance in innumerable ways. The 
manner of the theft of fire is aptly described, and 
according to the nature of the reality. It is said 
to have been accomplished by a rod communicat- 
ing with a tube, applied to the car of the sun. 
For the rod used for striking and giving blows, is 
clearly added in order to represent with elegance, 
that the generation of fire takes place by violent 
percussion and collision of bodies, by which the 
matter is attenuated and put in motion, and pre- 
pared for the reception of celestial heat : thus 
they draw down and snatch secretly, and as it 
were furtively, fire as from the car of the sun. 
What follows is a striking part of the parable. 
Men, instead of returning thanks and gratitude 
for the action, turned to indignation and com- 
plaint, and brought accusation both against Pro- 
metheus and against fire, a conduct which was 
very acceptable to Jupiter, so that in return for it 
he increased the blessings of man with added 
munificence. Whence arose this approbation and 
reward of the accusation brought by an ungrateful 
spirit (which embraces almost every vice) against 


its author? The story appears to have another 
meaning. This is the intention of the allegory : 
that the accusations brought by man against both 
his nature and his accomplishments proceed from 
an excellent state of mind, and produce good ef- 
fects, the contrary is unacceptable to the gods and 
unprosperous. For those who immeasurably extol 
the nature of man and the arts which he has re- 
ceived, and in their profuse admiration of such 
things as they have and possess, and in such 
sciences as they profess or cultivate, think they 
should be deemed to have reached perfection ; 
these are, first, irreverent towards the Divine 
Nature, to the perfection of which they pretend 
to equalize their own possessions ; and they are 
also barren of utility to men, since they think that 
they have already reached the summit of all things, 
and, as having done every thing possible, seek to 
go no further. On the other hand, those who 
depart from and accuse nature and art, and are 
full of complaints, then in truth both possess a 
more modest turn of mind, and are perpetually 
incited to new industry and new discoveries. 
Whence I am more inclined to admire the igno- 
rance and evil genius of men, who, domineered 
over like slaves by the arrogance of a few, hold in 
such veneration that philosophy of the Peripate- 
tics, a part only and no great one of the wisdom 
of the Greeks, that they have rendered all incul- 
pation of it not only useless, but suspected and 


dangerous to the author. And Empedocles, who 
complains like a madman, and Democritus, who 
complains with great modesty, that every thing is 
a mystery, that we know nothing, that we see no- 
thing, that truth is sunk in deep wells, that false- 
hood is wondrously intermingled and entwined 
with truth ; both (for the later Academy went en- 
tirely beyond bounds in this matter) are more to 
be approved of than the confident and dogmatical 
school of Aristotle. Therefore men are to be ad- 
monished, that such informations against nature 
and art are agreeable to the gods, and elicit new 
alms and new gifts from the Divine goodness ; and 
that the accusation of Prometheus, although their 
creator and master, and that vehemently and 
eagerly urged, is more wholesome and useful than 
profuse gratitude ; and in fine, that opinion of 
wealth must be reckoned among the chiefest 
causes of poverty. With regard to the nature of 
the gift which men are said to have received as a 
reward for their accusation, (namely, the preser- 
vation of youth from decay) we should be led to 
imagine from it, that the ancients did not despair 
of discovering methods and medicines for the de- 
laying of old age and prolongation of life ; but 
that they rather accounted them to be of those 
things, which, although once received by man, 
have been since lost by his carelessness and neg- 
ligence, or made of no account than of such as 
have been entirely denied and never granted to 


him. For they signify and hint that, by the right 
use of fire, and by zealous and strenuous accusa- 
tion and conviction of the errors of art, the divine 
munificence did not desert men in granting them 
this favour, but that they deserted themselves 
when they placed this gift of the gods on a slow 
and sluggish ass ; since experience appears to be a 
tardy and stupid guide, from the slow and tortoise- 
like step of which arose that ancient complaint of 
the shortness of life and length of art. And cer- 
tainly it is our opinion that those two faculties, 
the dogmatical and empirical (science of generals 
and particulars) have not yet been well united and 
conjoined ; but that the recently received gift of 
the gods was entrusted either to abstract philoso- 
phers, like giddy birds, or to slow and tardy ex- 
perience, figured by the ass. Yet we may augur 
well of that ass, unless the accident of thirst on 
the road intervenes. For we suppose, that if any 
man does constantly fight under the banners of 
experience, as by certain rule and method, and 
does not on his way thirst for experiments which 
apply only to profit or to ostentation : so that to 
try these he lays down and throws aside his bur- 
den ; such a man would be no improper convey- 
ance for the new and added munificence of Heaven. 
That the gift passed to serpents appears to be an 
addition to the fable for the sake of ornament, 
unless it be perhaps inserted that men may be 
ashamed, that they, with their fire and their nu- 


merous arts, cannot transfer those powers to them- 
selves which nature has freely afforded to nume- 
rous other animals. 

The sudden reconciliation also of men with Pro- 
metheus, after they had failed in their hopes, con- 
tains a useful and sage admonition. It marks the 
levity and rashness of mankind in attempting* new 
experiments : for, if these do not immediately suc- 
ceed, and answer their wishes, men desert their 
undertakings with hurried celerity, and recur with 
precipitation to their old ways, and are reconciliated 
to them. Having described the state of man with 
reference to arts and intellect, the parable passes 
over to religion : for the cultivation of divine things 
has accompanied that of the arts, and has been 
immediately perverted and abased by hypocrisy. 
Therefore, under that double sacrifice, the persons 
of the truly religious man and the hypocrite are 
elegantly represented. In the one is the fat, the 
portion of God, on account of its inflammability 
and odour, by which affection and burning zeal for 
the glory of God, which aspires after the highest, 
is signified ; in it are the bowels of charity, and 
the wholesome and useful flesh. In the other no- 
thing is found but dry and naked bones, which, 
nevertheless, stuff out the skin, and counterfeit a 
beautiful and magnificent victim; by which are 
rightly designated external and empty rites and 
vain sacrifices, with which men load and swell the 
worship of God, things rather composed for osten- 


tation than tending to piety. Nor are men con- 
tented with offering this sort of mockery to God, 
unless they impose them upon him and impute 
them to him, as if he had himself chosen and pre- 
scribed them. The prophet,, under the person of 
God, expostulates against this sort of option : " Is 
this that fast which I have chosen, that man 
should afflict his soul for one day, and bend down 
his head like a bulrush ?" After the state of reli- 
gion, the parable turns to morals, and to the lot of 
human life. It is the common interpretation, and 
yet the true one, that by Pandora are signified 
pleasure and desires, which, after the arts, and 
cultivation, and luxury of civilized life (as after 
the gift of fire),. also existed. Thus the fabrication 
of pleasure is deputed to Vulcan, who, in the same 
way, signifies fire. From pleasure infinite evils, 
together with late repentance, have flowed into the 
minds, bodies, and fortunes of men, and not only 
into the conditions of individuals, but into king- 
doms and commonwealths also. For from the 
same fountain, wars, and tumults, and tyrannies, 
have drawn their source. It is also worth while 
to remark, how beautifully and elegantly the fable 
has depicted the two conditions of human life, as 
in pictures or models, under the persons of Pro- 
metheus and Epimetheus. For those who follow the 
sect of Epimetheus, being improvident, and never 
consulting for distant futurity, consider as first 
those things which are at the time pleasant, and 


are on this account oppressed with many straits, 
difficulties, and calamities, and hold perpetual con- 
flict with them ; yet sometimes they appease their 
genius, and, moreover, from their inexperience of 
life, revolve many empty hopes in their mind, with 
which, as with pleasant dreams, they delight them- 
selves, and season the miseries of their life. But 
the school of Prometheus, composed of men pru- 
dent and provident of the future, cautiously remove 
and reject many evils and misfortunes : but at the 
same time they deprive themselves of many plea- 
sures and various delights, arising from circum- 
stances, and defraud their genius ; and, which is 
much worse, torment and destroy themselves with 
cares and anxieties, and internal fears. Bound to 
the column of necessity, they are harassed with 
innumerable thoughts, which, from their swiftness, 
are designated by the eagle, and those piercing 
ones, and consuming the liver ; unless at intervals, 
and as it were by night, they find some little re- 
mission and quiet for their soul, although that new 
anxieties and new fears are constantly returning. 
Therefore, to very few of either description does 
the happiness accrue, of retaining the benefits of 
providence, and at the same time freeing them- 
selves from anxieties and painful perturbations : 
nor can any one attain this except by means of 
Hercules, that is of fortitude and constancy, which, 
prepared for every event, and equally ready for 
every lot, looks forward without fear, enjoys with- 


out satiety, and endures without impatience. And 
this is well worthy of remark, that this virtue was 
not innate in Prometheus, but adventitious, and 
procured by foreign assistance : for no in-born 
and natural fortitude is sufficient for such achieve- 
ments. But this virtue was received and brought 
from the furthest ocean, and from the sun : for it 
springs from wisdom, as from the sun, and from 
meditation on the inconstancy and fluctuation of 
human life, as from navigation of the ocean : 
which two are well united by Virgil : 

Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas ; 
Atque metus omnes, et inexorabile fatum, 
Subjecit pedibus, strep itumque Acherontis avari. 

It is added, with great elegance, to console and 
strengthen the minds of men, that this mighty 
hero sailed in a cup or urceus, in order that they 
may not too much fear and allege the narrowness 
of their nature and its frailty: as if it were not 
capable of such fortitude and constancy ; of which 
very thing Seneca argued well, when he said, 
" It is a great thing to have at the same time the 
frailty of a man and the security of a God." But 
we must now return to that which we purposely 
passed over, not to break the connexion of events, 
that is, the latest accusation against Prometheus, 
that he had attempted the chastity of Minerva. 
For it was for this most heinous and heavy crime, 
also, that he suffered the punishment of the lace- 
ration of his entrails. This appears to signify 


nothing else, than that men, inflated with their 
powers, and the extent of their science, too fre- 
quently attempt to subject divine wisdom also to 
their senses and reason; whence most certainly 
follows laceration of the mind, and perpetual and 
unquiet excitement. Thus with sober and submis- 
sive mind, we must distinguish between human 
and divine things, and the oracles of sense, and 
those of faith, unless perchance both an heretical 
religion, and a falsified philosophy, are after the 
hearts of men. The last which remains is, to con- 
sider the games ascribed to Prometheus, performed 
with burning torches. This again refers to arts 
and sciences, as does that fire to the memory and 
celebration of which these games were instituted, 
and contains an advice, and that a most prudent 
one : That the perfection of science is to be ex- 
pected from succession, not from the quickness 
or powers of any individual. For those w r ho are 
swiftest and strongest in the race and contest, are, 
perhaps, the very men least able to keep their 
torches lighted, since the danger of its extinction 
equally attends on rapid course and on a too slow 
one. But these races and contests of torch-bearers 
appear to have long ceased, and to have flourished 
most with certain authors of science, with Aristotle, 
Galen, Euclid, Ptolemy; and succession has effected 
nothing great, and scarcely even attempted it. 
And it were to be wished that these games, in 
honour of Prometheus or human nature, were re- 


stored, and that the interests of science were pro- 
moted by competition and emulation, and happy 
fortune, and did not hang on the flickering" and 
unsteady torch of any one man. Thus men are to 
be admonished to awake themselves, and dare to 
try their powers and their fortunes also, and not 
place everything in the souls and brains of a few 
men. These are the notions which appear to us 
to be shadowed out in this well known and hack- 
neyed fable : yet we will not deny, that there may 
be certain foundations to it, which hint at the mys- 
teries of the Christian religion with wonderful 
analogy ; above all, the navigation of Hercules in 
the urceus to liberate Prometheus, appears to pre- 
sent an image of the Word of God hastening to 
the redemption of mankind in the flesh, as in some 
frail vessel. But we spontaneously interdict our- 
selves from all license in this line, lest, perchance, 
we use strange fire at the altar of the Lord. 


MEDIOCRITY, or the middle way, is in 
morals the most praiseworthy, in intellec- 
tuals less celebrated, but not less useful and good ; 
in politics only doubtful, and to be applied with 
judgment. Mediocrity in morals is noted by the 
ancients, by the way prescribed to Icarus ; in in- 


tellectuals, by that between Scylla and Charybdis, 
celebrated for its difficulties and dangers. Icarus 
was admonished by his father, on undertaking to fly 
over the sea, to guard against a too high or too low 
track : for, as his wings were glued with wax, if 
he let himself be borne too high, there was danger 
lest the wax should melt by the heat of the sun ; 
if he let himself down too near the vapour rising 
from the sea, lest the wax should become less solid 
by the humidity. He, however, with youthful 
daring, strove to reach higher, and fell down head- 
long. This parable is simple and well known. For 
the path of virtue lies open straight between excess 
and defect. Nor is it to be wondered at, that 
Icarus perished by excess. For excess is usually 
the vice of youth, defect that of old age : yet, of 
two bad and dangerous paths he chose the better : 
for the defects are reckoned the most depraved ; 
since in excess there is some magnanimity shewn, 
and some affinity to heaven, as in a bird : defect 
crawls on the ground like a reptile. Therefore, 
Heraclitus well said, "A dry light is the best soul." 
For if the soul contracts humidity from the earth, 
it entirely degenerates ; while, on the other hand 
measure must be kept, that its light become more 
subtle by that praiseworthy dryness, and that it be 
not caught in conflagration. These things are 
known to almost all. But the road between Scylla 
and Charybdis doth certainly require both skill and 
good fortune in sailing. For if the ships fall on 


Scylla, they are dashed to pieces on the rocks ; if 
on Charybdis, they are swallowed up. Of which 
parable this appears to be the force (which we will 
briefly touch on, although it draws after it endless 
contemplation), that in all doctrine and science, 
and in their rules and axioms, measure must be 
preserved between the rocks of Distinction and 
the whirlpools of Universals. For these two are 
infamous for the destruction of wit and science. 


THE Sphinx is reported to have been a mon- 
ster of a compounded form, with the face and 
voice of a virgin, the wings of a bird, the talons 
of a gryphon. She occupied the declivity of a hill 
in the Theban country, and obstructed the way. 
Her custom was to attack travellers from ambush 
and seize on them, and having reduced them un- 
der her power, she proposed to them certain ob- 
scure and perplexed enigmas, which were believed 
to have been given her and received from the 
muses. These if the wretched captives could not 
unriddle or interpret, in the midst of their hesita- 
tion and confusion she tore them to pieces with 
great ferocity. As this plague was reaching a 
great height, a reward was proposed by the The- 
bans (the monarchy of Thebes itself) to tbe man 


who should be able to explain the enigmas of the 
Sphinx ; for there was no other way to overcome 
her. GEdipus, a man of talent and prudence, but 
with lame and perforated feet, stimulated by such 
a prize, accepted the condition, and resolved to 
attempt the adventure. Then, confident and full 
of heart, he presented himself before the Sphinx. 
She demanded of him, what was that animal, 
which, born at first with four feet, afterwards be- 
came two-footed, then three-footed, and finally 
four-footed again. He with great presence of 
mind answered, that the riddle related to man, 
who at first birth and in infancy rolls like a quad- 
ruped, and scarcely tries to crawl ; in no long 
time walks erect and with two feet, in old age 
leans on a stick, when a decrepit old man his 
nerves failing him, lies down on four feet, and is 
fastened to his bed. Thus having obtained victory 
by a true answer, he killed the Sphinx, whose 
body he placed on an ass, and led it about as in 
triumph, and was himself created King of the 
Thebans according to compact. This fable is 
elegant, and not less prudent, and appears to have 
been framed of science, and especially of that 
united with practice. Since science may be called 
a monster not absurdly, since to the ignorant and 
unskilful it is an object of wonder. It is com- 
pounded in figure and appearance, on account of 
the immense variety of the subjects with which 
science is conversant ; its voice and countenance 


are represented as those of a woman, on account 
of its beauty and eloquence; wings are added, 
because the sciences and their inventions are 
spread and fly in a moment, the communication 
of science being" as that of light from light, which 
is kindled in an instant. With great elegance 
sharp and crooked talons are attributed to it, be- 
cause the axioms and arguments of science pene- 
trate the mind, and seize and hold it, so that it 
cannot move and glide away. Which the sacred 
philosopher also has noted: The words of the wise 
(he says) are like goads, and nails driven deep. 
All science, again, appears placed on the lofty 
and steep parts of mountains. For it is deservedly 
esteemed a sublime and lofty thing, and looks 
down on ignorance as from an elevated spot, and 
moreover, hath a wide prospect on every side, as 
is usual on the tops of mountains. Science is 
also feigned to obstruct the mountain roads, be- 
cause in that journey or travel of human life, 
matter and opportunity of contemplation presses 
itself on us, and every where meets us. The 
Sphinx proposed various and difficult questions 
to mortals, which it has learnt from the muses. 
These, as long as they remain with the muses, 
are perhaps void of severity. For while there is 
no other end of meditation and disquisition than 
simple knowledge, the intellect is not oppressed 
and cramped, but spreads itself and wanders, and 
at that very doubt and variety feels no small plea- 


sure and delight; but as soon as these enigmas 
are transmitted by the muses to the Sphinx, that 
is, to practice, when action and choice and will 
press on and compel us, then they begin to be 
grievous and irksome, and unless they are solved 
and ended, they wonderfully torment and vex the 
human mind, and distract it every way, and may 
be said to tear it. Therefore in the enigmas of 
the Sphinx there is always a double condition pro- 
posed : to the unsuccessful torment of mind, to 
the successful empire. For he who is master of 
his subject obtains his end, and every artificer 
rules his own workmanship. There are two ge- 
neral kinds of the enigmas of the Sphinx, riddles 
on the nature of things, and riddles on the nature 
of man, and in the same manner two kinds of em- 
pire reward the solution, empire over nature and 
empire over man. But the natural and proper 
ultimate end of true philosophy is, empire over 
natural things, over bodies, medicines, mechani- 
cal powers, and other infinite things ; although 
the school, content with what is offered it, and 
swelling with mere words, neglects and almost 
casts aside things and experiments. Now the 
enigma which was proposed to GEdipus, by which 
he obtained the government of Thebes, related to 
the nature of man ; for whoever has thoroughly 
examined the nature of man, he may be in a man- 
ner the artificer of his own fortune, and is born for 


empire. As was well written of the arts of the 
Romans : 

Tu regere imperio populos, Romane , memento ; 
Hae tibi erunt artes. 

Therefore it is a remarkable coincidence, that 
Augustus Caesar used the emhlem of the Sphinx, 
whether intentionally or gratuitously. For he, if 
ever any man did, most surely excelled in the art 
of government, and in the course of his life 
solved happily many new enigmas of the nature of 
man, which if he had not been dexterous and 
ready in solving, he would many times have been 
not far from imminent perdition and ruin. It is 
added also in the fable, that the body of the con- 
quered Sphinx was placed on an ass ; and with 
great elegance, since nothing is so acute and ab- 
struse but that when once it is fully understood 
and made public, it may be trusted even to a slug- 
gish one. Nor must we pass over that the Sphinx 
was subdued by a lame man, for men are wont to 
hurry to the enigmas of the Sphinx with too swift 
and rapid a pace ; whence it arises, that the Sphinx 
being too strong for them, they rather tear their 
minds and faculties by disputation, than govern 
by acts and effect. 



THEY relate that Pluto, after having received 
the government of the infernal regions by 
that memorable partition, despaired of obtaining 
in marriage any of the divinities, should he try to 
win them by address and pleasant manners, so 
that it was necessary for him to direct his thoughts 
to ravishment. Therefore, having watched his 
opportunity, with a sudden assault he carried off 
Proserpine, the daughter of Ceres, a most beauti- 
ful virgin, while she was collecting the flowers of 
narcissus in the fields of Sicily, and hore her 
with him to the infernal regions in his car, where 
great reverence was paid her, so that she was 
called Queen of Dis. But Ceres her mother, when 
her only beloved daughter was nowhere to be 
found, sorrowful and anxious above measure, at 
length, bearing in her hand a lighted torch, tra- 
versed the whole circumference of the earth, to 
search for and recover her daughter. When this 
was all in vain, having received by chance infor- 
mation that she had been carried into the infernal 
regions, she wearied Jove with constant tears and 
lamentations, that she might be restored to her. 
And at length she obtained, that if Proserpine had 
not tasted any thing which was found in the in- 

330 wisdom or the ancients. 

femal regions, she should be allowed to bring her 
away. This condition was adverse to the wishes of 
the mother ; for Proserpine was discovered to have 
tasted three grains of a pomegranate. Nor did 
Ceres cease upon this to resume her prayers and 
lamentations. At length therefore it was allowed 
her, that Proserpine at different seasons and by 
turns, should remain six months with her husband, 
the other six with her mother. This Proserpine, 
Theseus and Pirithous afterwards with singular 
daring attempted to tear away from the couch of 
Pluto ; but having sat down, wearied in their 
journey, on a stone in the infernal regions, they 
had not the power to rise, but was left sitting for 
ever. Proserpine, therefore, remained Queen of 
the infernal regions, to whose honour also a great 
privilege was added : that, although it was impos- 
sible for those who had descended to those regions 
to return again, a single exception was added to 
this law, that if any one should bring to Proserpine 
for a gift the golden bough, he might for this 
purpose go and return. That single bough was 
in a great and thick grove, and was not a tree, 
but grew like a graft on another stick, and when 
torn away, another did not fail to follow. 

This fable appears to relate to nature, and to 
that rich and fruitful power and quality in the 
subterraneous parts, by which our productions are 
made to grow, and into which they again are re- 
solved and return. By Proserpine the ancients 


signified that ethereal spirit which is torn from the 
surface of the globe, and shut up and confined 
under the earth (represented by Pluto), which the 
poet has not ill expressed : 

Sive recens tellus, seductaque nuper ab alto 
^Ethere, cognati retinebat semina coeli. 

That spirit is said to be ravished by the Earth, 
because it is impossible to constrain it, where time 
and space are given it to break out, but it is com- 
pressed and fixed down by a sudden violence ; as, 
x f any one attempts to mix air and water, he can 
by no means do it, except by a quick and rapid 
agitation ; for in this manner we see those bodies 
united in foam, where the air is as it were ravished 
by the water. Nor is it without elegance added, 
that Proserpine was ravished while collecting flowers 
of narcissus in the valleys ; because the narcissus 
receives its name from sleep or stupor ; and the 
spirit is then most in a state to be ravished by the 
terrestrial matter, when it begins to coagulate, and 
as it were to collect torpor. Honour is also rightly 
paid to Proserpine, beyond the consort of any other 
god, as being Queen of Dis, because that spirit 
administers all things in those regions ; Pluto re- 
maining stupid and, as it were, ignorant. This 
spirit the air and power of the celestial parts (re- 
presented by Ceres), attempts with infinite watch- 
fulness to draw out and restore to itself; and that 
ethereal torch or burning lio*ht in the hand of 


Ceres, without doubt denotes the Sun, which per- 
forms the office of light round the circumference 
of the Earth, and would be most influential of all 
in the recovery of Proserpine, if that could by any 
means be effected. But she remains fixed, after a 
law accurately and excellently laid down in that 
compact of Jupiter and Ceres ; for, in the first 
place, it is most certain that there are two ways of 
confining spirit in solid and terrestrial matter : the 
one by constrainment and obstruction, which is 
mere violent incarceration ; the other by the admi- 
nistration of proportionable nourishment, which is 
done voluntarily. For when the inclosed spirit 
begins to feed and nourish itself, it does not hasten 
to fly away, but is fixed as it were in its own 
earth : and this is the tasting of the pomegranate 
by Proserpine; for, had not this taken place, she 
would long ago have been carried away by Ceres, 
who is wandering over the Earth with her torch. 
For the spirit which is contained in metals and 
minerals, is, perhaps, principally confined by the 
solidity of. the mass ; but that which is in plants 
and animals inhabits in a porous body, and has 
open means of escaping, were it not detained of its 
own accord by that mode of nourishment. The 
second agreement, of the division of six months, is 
nothing but an ep# gan£ ^description of the division 
of the year, sinco tfeatj spirit perfused the Earth, 
as far as relates to vegetables, inhabits above during 
the months of summer, and in the months of win- 


ter returns to subterraneous regions. As to the 
adventure of Theseus and Pirithous to carry off 
Proserpine, it relates to an effort which frequently 
takes place, when the more subtle spirits w r hich 
descend to the Earth in many bodies, by no means 
succeed in sucking up, uniting with themselves, 
and carrying off the subterranean spirit; but, on 
the other hand, are themselves coagulated, and 
never rise again ; so that Proserpine is by their 
means increased in inhabitants and subjects. But 
with regard to the golden bough, it seems scarcely 
possible for us to resist the attack of the chemists, 
if they rush on us from this side ; seeing that they 
promise, by means of their single stone, both moun- 
tains of gold, and the restitution of natural bodies, 
as it were, from the gates of the infernal regions. 
Yet, as to chemistry and the perpetual wooers of 
that stone, we know to a certainty that their theory 
is without foundation, and we suspect that their 
practice also has no certain reward. Therefore, 
passing over this, the following is our opinion of 
this last part of the parable. We certainly have 
found, from many figures of the ancients, that they 
did not hold it a thing utterly to be despaired 
of, to preserve and restore natural bodies up to a 
certain point, but rather as a thing abstruse and 
difficult of discovery. And this they appear to 
mean in this place also, where they have situated 
this golden twig among the innumerable boughs of 
a vast and thick wood. They make it golden, 


because gold is the symbol of duration : grafted, 
because the effect is to be hoped for from some 
similar act, not by any medicine, or simple and 
natural method. 


ANCIENT poets write that Jupiter took to 
wife Metis (whose name without obscurity 
signifies counsel), and that she became big with 
child from him. As soon as he observed this, he 
did not wait for her delivery, but immediately de- 
voured her, whence he became himself pregnant. 
That a wondrous delivery followed, for he brought 
forth Pallas, armed from his head or brain. The 
sense of this monstrous and, at first sight, most 
silly fable, appears to contain some secrets of go- 
vernment, the arts, namely, which kings are wont 
to use in their behaviour to their councils, so that 
their own authority and majesty may not only be 
preserved untouched, but may even be exalted and 
increased among the people. For kings rightly 
judge, that to be united and, as it were, joined in 
marriage with their councils, and to deliberate with 
them on affairs of the first importance, is no dimi- 
nution of their majesty : but when it becomes time 
for decision (which answers to delivery), they do 
not allow the part of the council to reach any 
farther, lest their actions should appear to depend 


on the will of the council : but then at length (un- 
less the affair in hand be of such a nature as may 
excite them to wish to turn the unpopularity con- 
sequent on it into other channels, are wont to 
transfer to themselves whatever has been wrought 
out, and, as it were, formed in the womb by their 
council, so that the decision and execution (which, 
because it comes forth with power and reduces to 
necessity, is elegantly typified under the figure of 
an armed Pallas), may appear to emanate from 
themselves. Nor is it enough that the authority 
of kings, and their will, free, unfettered, and not 
invidious, should be impressed on these decisions ; 
unless they also assume this to themselves, that 
these decrees may seem to spring from their head, 
that is, from their proper judgment and prudence. 


THE fable of the Sirens, by a very common 
interpretation, and a right one, is transferred 
to the pernicious allurements of pleasure. To us, 
however, The Wisdom of the Ancients appears to 
be as ill-pressed grapes, from which, although 
somewhat be expressed, yet all the more precious 
parts remain within, and are neglected. The 
Sirens are represented to have been the daughters 
of Achelous and the muse Terpsichore. At first 


they were possessed of wings, but having rashly 
entered into a contest with the Muses, were 
punished by a deprivation of them. From their 
wings thus torn away, the Muses made to them- 
selves chaplets ; so that from that time the Muses 
possessed wings to their heads, except only the 
mother of the Sirens. The habitation of the Si- 
rens was in certain pleasant islands. Whenever 
they beheld from an eminence ships approaching, 
they by their songs first detained navigators, then 
drew them towards them, and when caught slew 
them. Nor was their song of one nature only, 
but they allured each man with such strains as 
were most agreeable to his nature. So great was 
the evil, that the isles of Sirens, even when seen 
afar off, were white with the bones of unburied 
carcases. To this evil, two remedies of different 
natures and application, were discovered : one by 
Ulysses, the other by Orpheus. Ulysses, ordered 
that the ears of all his companions should be 
stopped with wax : yet, wishing to make experi- 
ment of the wonder, and at the same time ward 
off the danger, would have himself bound to his 
mast, with orders that no one should loose him, 
even were he to ask it. Orpheus, without using 
any such chains, loudly singing the praises of the 
gods to his lyre, drowned the voices of the Sirens, 
and kept out of danger. 

This fable relates to moral science, and appears, 
indeed, a parable clear of interpretation, but not 


the less elegant. Pleasures proceed from abun- 
dance and affluence, and from mirth or hilarity of 
spirit. Formerly they used to hurry away men 
with their first allurements suddenly, and, as it 
were, with wings. But science and erudition have 
effected at least thus much, that the mind of man 
does in some measure restrain itself, and weighs 
in itself the consequences of action. Thus they 
have deprived the pleasures of their wings. This 
became great honour and glory to the Muses ; for, 
as soon as it became evident by the example of 
some, that philosophy was able to induce contempt 
of pleasures, it appeared immediately a sublime 
thing, able to raise and lift up the soul, as it were, 
fixed on earth, and to make the thoughts of men 
(which pass in the head) winged and ethereal. The 
mother of the Sirens only remained without wings, 
and bound to the earth. This Muse, beyond doubt, 
is nothing else than those light sciences which 
have been invented for the sake of pleasure ; such 
as appear to have been esteemed by that Petronius, 
who, when he was under sentence of death, sought 
for pleasure at the very gates of death;, and, wish- 
ing to enjoy the solace of letters also, \ he read 
nothing (says Tacitus) written to arm men with 
constancy ; but light verses, such as are the fol- 
lowing : 

Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus, 
Rumoresque senium sasviorum 
Omnes unius sestimemus assis. 



Jura senes norint, et quid sit fasque nefasque, 
Inquirant tristes, legumque examina servent. 

For such doctrines as these appear to wish 
again to take off the wings from the crown of the 
Muses, and restore them to the Sirens. These 
Sirens are said to inhabit islands, because they 
generally seek retreats from men, and frequently 
avoid their haunts. The song of the Sirens has 
been celebrated so as to be well-known to all, 
and its destructiveness, and the variety of its arti- 
fices, so that this part needs no interpreter. There 
is something more far fetched in the bones appear- 
ing like white hills from a distance, which signi- 
fies, that the most evident and conspicuous examples 
of calamity are of little avail against the corrup- 
tion of pleasure. There remains a parable, in the 
remedies employed, not abstruse, but nevertheless 
sagacious and noble. Three remedies are proposed 
for this insinuating, and, at the same time, violent 
evil : two by philosophy, the third by religion. 
The first method of escape is, to resist the begin- 
ning of pleasure, and sedulously to avoid all occa- 
sions which may tempt and influence the soul, 
which is denoted by the stopping of the ears. And 
this remedy is necessarily to be applied to vulgar 
and plebeian spirits, such as the companions of 
Ulysses. But loftier souls may even sojourn in 
the midst of pleasures, if they fortify themselves 
with determination ; and do ever by this means 



rejoice in trying a more serious experiment on their 
virtue ; they learn also the folly and madness of 
the pleasures, by contemplating them without 
yielding to them ; which Solomon professed of 
himself, when he finishes the enumeration of the 
pleasures with which he abounded, with the fol- 
lowing sentence, " Wisdom also continued with 
me," Thus such heroes can shew themselves un- 
moved amidst the greatest allurements of pleasure, 
and keep upright on its headlong descent; only, 
after the example of Ulysses, forbidding the per- 
nicious counsels and obsequiousness of their attend- 
ance, which have power above all things to corrupt 
and sap the foundations of the mind. But the 
most excellent in every way is the remedy of Or- 
pheus, who, by singing and shouting the praises 
of the gods, drowned and dissipated the voices of 
the Sirens. For the meditation of divine things 
surpasses sensual pleasure, not only in power but 
in sweetness also. 


Achelous, warlike expeditions, fabled by, 299 ; or battle, 

Actaeon, 267 

Acting in song, 139 

Adrian, an envious man, 27 

Adversity, 15 

Age t 153 ; how to be treated, 117 ; not to be defied, 117 

Aged men, their faults, 154 

Agesilaus, envious, 27 

Albert Durer, 156 

Allegory of the contest between arts and nature, 306 

Ambition, 136 

Anger, 200; how it may be calmed and tempered, 201 ; 
causes and motives of, 201 ; how to raise or appease in an- 
other, 202 j in bitterness of words, or revealing of secrets, 
to be especially avoided, 202 ; remedies against, 203 

Apelles, 156 

Appendix to Essays, 211 

Ardent natures not early ripe for action, 153 

Argus, 79 

Arms, flourish in the youth of a state, 210 ; to be most 
studied for national greatness, 111 

Art and nature and allegory of contest between, 306 

Art of conversation, 122-3 

Atalanta, or gain, 305 

Atheism, 56 ; evils of, 58 ; talking of, 56 

Atheist, contemplative rare, 58 

Augustus Caesar's emblem of the sphynx, 328 

Authority, vices of, four, 37 

Aviaries, 173 

Bacchus, his car, 301 ; or passion, 300 

Bachelors, or childless, are best public men, 23 ; from par- 
simony, 23 ; from a desire to be rich, 23 ; from disregard 
of future times, 23 ; are best friends, 24 ; are best servants, 
24 ; best masters, 24 ; best churchmen, 24; are worst sub- 
jects, 24 



Battle, 299 

Beauty, best part of, a picture cannot express, 156 

Boldness, advantages of, 39 ; child of ignorance and base- 
ness, 39 ; succeeds in states, 39 ; is blind, 40 ; good in 
soldiers and servants, 41 ; ill keeper of promises, 40 ; of 
Mahomet, 41 

Books, speak plain, when courtiers fear, 76 

Briareus, 53, 79 

Building, 159 

Cambridge University, dedication to, 227 

Cassandra, or free speaking, 237 

Cato, injudicious free speaking, 238 

Catches, 139 

Celsus, 118 

Cheerfulness at meals, 117 

Children, pinched in allowance, are made base and full of 
shifts, 22 ; and parents, 21 ; and wife, discipline of hu- 
manity, 24 

Cicero, his saying of Posthumus, 128 ; remarks on Cato, 238 ; 
saying of, 91 

Clergy, overgrown e.vils of, 51 

Colours for candlelight, 140 

Comets, 205 

Commissions, standing, commended, 77 

Committees, best composed of indifferent persons, 77 

Contemplative atheist rare, 58 

Conversation, art of, 122 

Cosmus, duke of Florence, 14 

Counsel, inconveniences of, 73 ; revealing affairs, 73 ; weak- 
ening authority, 73 ; unfaithful or unwise, 73 ; cabinet, 
when and why introduced, 74; the highest confidence, 71 ; 
safety in, 72 ; Solomon's sayings of, 72 

Counsellor of kings, skilful in his business, not in his nature, 75 

Council, petition of, 76 

Courage, strength of a state, 106 

Crowd, not company, 93 

Cupid, allegorical blindness of, 285 ; his four attributes, 283; 
or atom, 282 

Cunning, crooked wisdom, 79; precepts of, 80; practised 
by diversion, by surprise, by haste, 80 

Custom, 143 ; force of, 145 ; stronger than nature or bonds, 
144; tyranny of, 144 

Cyclops, or ministers of terror, 242 

INDEX. 343 

Daedalus, or the mechanic, 290 

Dancing to music, 139 

Dangers best met half way, 78 

David's harp, 16 

Death, early, of men of genius, 280 ; essay on, 217 ; a small 
evil, 217 ; fear of, 4 ; gracious to the miserable, 221 

Decay of an empire may bring wars, 208 

Dedication of Wisdom of the Ancients, 227 

Deformed men envious, 27 ; persons bold, 158 ; without 
natural affection, 157 

Deformity, 157 

Delays, 78 

Deluge and earthquake, 204 

Democritus, 315; his opinion, 284, 275 

Demosthenes' opinion of an orator, 39 

Deucalion, or restitution, 295 

Diet and physic, 118 

Diomed, fable of, explained, 288 ; or jealousy, 287 

Discipline of humanity, wife and children, 24 

Discontent, cause of sedition, 49 ; prevention of, 54; politi- 
cal enlargement of, 50 ; when dangerous, 52 

Discourse, its faults and merits, 121 

Discovery of a man's self, 19 

Disgrace, or suitor of Juno, 281 

Dispatch affected, 88 

Dissimulation and simulation, 16 

Divine nature of goodness, 44 

Domitian, dream of, 132 

Earth, or the common people, 266 

Education, 143 ; but early custom, 145 

Elizabeth, prophecy concerning, 133 

Empire, 65 

Empedocles, 315 

Endymion, or the favourite, 264 

JEnvy, an evil eye, 25 ; quality of the vicious, 26 ; of the 
Inquisition, 26 ; of lame men, 27 ; of mechanics fabled by 
Daedalus, 291 ; public, restrains overgrown greatness, 30 ; 
proper attribute of the Devil, 30 

Epicurus' opinion of atoms, 285 

Epimetheus, 53 

Ericthonius, or imposture, 293 

Esop's cock, 42 ; fable of cat, 142 

Examples of fortunate kings, 68 ; of friendship, 96 

Expence, 102 ; ordinary, 102 ; extraordinary, 102 

Experiment, rashness of, 317 

344 INDEX. 

Fable of Atalanta, 305 ; of Prometheus, 307; of Proteus, 
interpretation of, 278 ; reduced to allegory, 227 

Fame, fragment of Essay on, 211 ; pedigree of, 47 ; the sister 
of the giants, 266 

Favourites, how bridled, 137 ; less dangerous if mean than 
noble, 137 ; or Endymion beloved by Luna, 264 ; of 
kings simple rather than wise or cunning, 265 

Fear of death, 4 

Fiction, love of, 1 

Flowers and trees for each month, 165 

Followers, 176; costly, not to be liked, nor factious, nor 
spies, 177 

Forgiveness, glory of, 13 

Fortune, 146 ; in a man's own power, 146 ; blind not invi- 
sible, 146 ; Italian proverb concerning, 147 

Fountains of two sorts, 170 

Frankness, quality of the ablest men, 17 

Free speaking, or Cassandra, 237 

Friend, use of, 101 

Friends, 176 

Friendship denoteth joys, 97 ; lessens sorrow, 97 ; healthful 
for the understanding, 97 ; for counsel by, 99 ; noble 
fruits of, 101 ; its fruits, 93 ; sought for by kings, 94 ; 
altar raised to, 96 ; examples of, 96 

Games of Prometheus, 321 

Garden, description of, 168; for each month, 165; divided 

in three parts, 168 
Gardening, the purest of pleasures, 165 
Gellius, saying of, 91 
Glory of forgiveness, 13 
Goodness imprinted in man's nature, 42; or philanthropia, 

41 ; parts of, 44 
Government, 49; of colonies, 126; pillars of, religion, 

justice, counsel, treasure, 49 
<}reat place, 34 
Graeae, or intrigue, 262 
Greek philosophy investigates first principles, 284 

Habits best overcome at once, 142 

Harp of David, 16 

Heath, 172 

Heaven, or origins, 273 

Helen, preferred to Juno and Pallas, riches and wisdom, 33 

Helicon, waters of, lost in seditious tumults, 273 

INDEX. 345 

Henry VII. only two counsellors, 74 ; suspicious, 119 

Herbs for plantations, 124 

Hippomene's challenge to Atalanta, 305 

Honour three things, 138 

Hope, importance of, in government, 53 ; to be entertained 

by the aged, 117 
Houses, comfort preferred to uniformity in, 159 ; choice of 

ground for building, 159 ; for summer and winter, 160 

Icarus, 291 

Illicit arts, 293 

Imposture, or Ericthonius, 293 

Indians, custom of, 144 

Injudicious free-speakers, 238 

Innovation, 86 

Insolent success exposed to envy, 29 

Iphicrates, his address to the Lacedemonians, 247 

Irish rebel, 144 

Jealousy, or Diomed, 287 

Jests, things privileged from, 121 

Judges, office of, with reference to the suitors, 195 ; with 
reference to the advocates, 197 ; to the inferior officers of 
the court, 198 ; to the king, 199 ; their office to interpret, 
not make law; their qualities, 195 

Judicature, 195 

Jupiter lamed bv Typhon, 239 ; married Metes, or coun- 
sel, 72 

Justice, pillar of government, 49 

Just fears, cause for war, 68 

Kings endangered by kindred and prelates, 68, 69 ; hearts 
inimitable, 65 ; fond of toys and trifling acts, 65 ; have sad 
ends, 65 ; examples of, 65 ; in counsel should be silent to 
get at truth, 77 ; nature of, 213 ; maxims for, 214 ; qua- 
lities of, 214-15 ; precepts, concerning, 71 ; sharp speeches 
by, dangerous, 54 ; will, contradictions, 67 

Kingdoms, their true greatness, 104 

Knee timber, 44 

Letters, when good, 174 

Libels, 47 ; open and audacious, sign of bad government, 48 
Licensed money-lenders, 152 

Love, martial men given to, 34 ; wanton, corrupteth, 34 ; 
flood time in adversity and prosperity, 33 ; useful to the 

346 ITSiDEX. 

drama, 32 ; rejected in excess by great minds, 32 ; 
Epicurus' saying of, 32 ; foolish idolatry, 32 ; ruined Mark 
Antony and Claudius, 32 ; which loseth all things, loseth 
itself, 33 ; the most ancient of the gods, 282 

Lewis XI. of France, his favourites, 265 

Low countries, recurrence of weather in, 206 

Lucian's saying of Menippus, 218 

Machiavel, 205 

Machiavel, of custom, 143; in the Christian faith, 42; opi- 
nion of Henry III. of France, 48 

Mahomet's boldness, 40 

Man, state of, 307; the centre of the universe, 311 

Manner of planting new sects, threefold, 20 

Manufactures, fit for plantations, 125 

Marriage and single life, 23 

Married men, best subjects, 24; best soldiers, 24 ; men give 
hostage to fortune, 23 

Masques and triumphs, 139 

Massacre in France, 12 

Matter, force may change but cannot annihilate, 278 

Meals, cheerfulness at, 117 

Mediocrity in morals, 322 

Memnon, or the premature, 279 ; fable of, explained, 279 

Mercenaries, not to be depended upon, 107 

Merchants, vena porta, 70 ; wealth of a state, 70 ; impolicy 
of taxing heavily, 70 

Metis, or counsel, 334 ; relating to governments, 334 

Microcosm, 312 

Military men, importance of, 55 

Ministers, choice of, 138 

Minos, 293 

Misanthropi worse than Timon, 43 

Monarchy, tree of, 109 

Monks in Russia, 145 

Monopoly, evils of, 52 

Montaigne, 3 

Moral and civil philosophy, fabled by the songs of Or- 
pheus, 271 

Mountebanks of the body politic, 40 

Mutability, 296 

Narcissus, or self-love, 243 

National greatness best promoted by arms, 111 

Nations, wealth of, 52 

INDEX. 347 

Nature, 141 

Nature and art, allegory of contest between, 306 ; not to be 

overtasked, 141 ; or Pan, 248 
Necessity, the ruler of princes, 247 
Negociation, better by speech than letter, 174 
Negociator, how to choose, 174 
Nemesis, or mutability, 296 ; vengeance or retribution, 297 \ 

daughter of ocean and night, 297 
Nero Comrnodus, character of, 66 
New sects in religion, when dangerous, 206 
Nobility, monarchy without it a tyranny, 41 ; numerous, make 

a state poor, 44 ; of birth, abates industry, extinguishes 

envy, 44 ; when depressed, dangerous, 70 
Noblemen, too many bad for a state, 109 
Nobles and people, discontent of, 52 

Odours, 140 

(Edipus, 325 

Old men envious, 26 

Order, life of dispatch, 90 

Ordnance, use of, in China 2000 years since, 209 

Orpheus, or philosophy, 269 ; songs of, indicate moral and 

civil philosophy, 271 ; and Sirens, 336 
Otho, 5 
Over early ripeness in youth, 155 

Painting, imagination better than reality in, 157 

Palace, description of, 161 

Pallas, 53 

Pan, or nature, 247 ; god of huntsmen and shepherds, 249 ; 
how clothed, 249; accompanied by Silenus and Satyrs, 
249 ; contended with Apollo, 249 ; represents the uni- 
verse, 250 

Pandora's box, 309 

Parables, preceded philosophical reasoning, 235 

Parents and children, 21 

Parents, their joys, 21; their sorrows, 21; their partiality, 21; 
their covetousness, 22 ; should keep close authority, not a 
close purse, 22 ; should avoid emulations, 22 ; should be 
liberal, 22 

Passions to be avoided in age, 117 

Patience essential to justice, 196 

Pentheus, or perplexed judgment, 268 

People, fit for colonies, 124; overtaxed not fit for empire, 

348 INDEX. 

Perseus, or war, 259 ; slays Medusa, 260 ; receives swiftness, 
secrecy, and foresight, 261 ; resorts to the Graeae, or in- 
trigues, 262 

Persians in Arbela, 106 

Personal negotiation, when good, 174 

Philanthropia, 41 

Philosophy destroyed by seditious tumult, 272 ; or Orpheus, 
269 ; true end of, 327 

Physicians, how to choose, 181 

Physic and diet, 118 

Pillars of government, 49 

Pilate, 1 

Place, sheweth the man, 38 ; rising into, laborious, 34 ; stand- 
ing slippery, 34 ; often base, 34 

Placemen, thrice servants, to the king, the state, and to fame, 
35 ; as to their colleagues, 38 

Plantations, 123 

Plants yielding the most perfume, 167 

Plato, saying of, 92 

Pleasure, allegorical representation of, 280 ; in recurring to 
youthful days, 281 

Pluto's helmet, 79 

Political discontent, how estimated, 60 

Powder plot, 12 

Power to do good, lawful end of aspiring, 35 

Poverty, cause of sedition, 49 

Preface to Wisdom of the Ancients, 229 

Prelates, when powerful, dangerous subjects, 69 

Pride, flattered by abjectness in the suitor, 281 

Princes, bound only by necessity, 247 ; compared to hea- 
venly bodies, 71 

Private revenge, 14 

Privation of discontents, 54 

Prolongation of life, 315 

Prometheus, 53 ; tradition of, 307 ; inventor of fire, 313 

Prophecies, 132 

Prophecy, Spanish fleet, 134 

Prosperity, 16 

Proserpine, or spirit, 328 ; fable of, relating to nature, 330 

Proteus, a prophet, 277 ; or matter, 277 

Providence, nature of, illustrated by fable of Prometheus, 311 

Public envy hath some good, 30 ; revenge, 14 

Pyrrha and Deucalion, 295 

Quarrels, wisdom of avoiding, 64 

INDEX. 349 

Rebellions, or the fable of Typhon, 240 

Recurrence of weather in a cycle, 206 

Regimen of health, 116 

Religion, pillar of government, 49 : unity of, 7 ; Lucre- 
tius, 11 

Religious differences dissolve friendships, 289 ; errors should 
be opposed with mildness by the reformation of abuses, 
and the compounding of small differences, 207 ; warfare 
unknown to the ancients, 288 

Remedies of sedition, 51 

Restitution, 295 

Revenge, public, 14 ; private, 14 ; wild justice, 13 

Riches, baggage of virtue, 127 ; impediment to virtue, 127 ; 
lasting only when earned, 128 

Romans and Turks prospered by arms alone, 111 

Rooms for summer and winter, 163 

SAFETY-valve for sedition, 53 

Satire salt, not bitter, 121 

Saturn fabled as matter, 274 

Savages in colonies, how to be treated, 126 

Schoolmen, 60 

Science of generals and particulars, 316 

Scylla and Icarus, 322 

Secrecy, virtue of, a confession, 18 

Sedition, 49 ; materials of, 49 ; matter of poverty and dis- 
content, 49 ; causes of, 50 ; innovation of, 50 ; alteration 
of laws, 50 ; advancement of, 50 ; of unworthy persons, 50 ; 
safety-valve of, 53 ; and troubles, 46 

Seditious tumult destructive of philosophy, 272 

Seeming wise, 90 

Self-love, instances of, 85, 86 ; or Narcissus, 243 

Seneca, 5, 15 ; prophecy of, 132 ; on anger, 201 

Shepherds of the people should calendar tempests, 46 

Simulation, 19 ; advantages of, 19 ; disadvantages of, 20 ; 
and dissimulation, 17 

Single life and marriage, 23 

Sirens, the, or pleasure, 335 ; their habitation, 336 

Slaves, Spartan, 110; abolished by Christian law, 110 

Soldiers dangerous to the state in large bodies, 71 

Solitude, saying of, 92 

Solomon, his sayings of riches, 128 

Soul, shaken off mortality, 219 

Spanish proverb of dispatch, 89 ; state, 110 

Spartan state, 109 ; firm, while small, 109 ; ruined by ex- 
tension, 109 

350 INDEX. 

Speeches, sharp, by kings, danger of, 54 

Sphynx, or science, riddle of, 324 

State of man, 307 ; what constitutes, 106 ; strength of, not 

numbers or money, 106 
Study, set hours for, 143 
Styx, or necessity, 247 ; or treaties, 245 
Suitor of Juno, or disgrace, 281 
Superstition, causes of, 61 ; evils of, 59 
Suspicions, 119; of suspicion, 119 
Switzers, last long as a people, 45 
Sybilla's offer, 78 
Sylla's friendship for Pompey, 95 

Tacitus, upon fame, 47 

Talking of atheism, 56 

Tamerlane envious, 27 

Tempests, greatest about the equinox, 47 

Terror, ministers of, or Cyclops, 242 

Thieves, not fit for plantations, 124 

Themistocles, sayings of, 104 

Things, but two constant, 203 

Tiberius, his favourites, 265 

Tigellinus, sayings of, 83 

Time, the greatest innovator, 87 

Timotheus, the Athenian, 148 

Travel, 62 ; desire of travelling, 62 ; scenes at sea and on 
shore, 62 ; observations to be made in travelling, 62 ; ac- 
quaintance to be sought in travelling, 64 

Treatises, or Styx, 245 

Tree of monarchy, 109 

Troubles and seditions, 46 

True dispatch, 89 ; religion unchangeable, 206 

Truth, 1 ; best obtained in counsel, when kings are silent, 77 

Turks and Romans prescribed as nations by arms, 112 ; un- 
married, make base soldiers, 24 

Typhon, or the rebel, 239 

Tythonus, or satiety, 280 

University of Cambridge, dedication to, 227 

Unity of religion, 7 

Ulysses and Sirens, 336 

Usurers. 148 

Usury, 148 ; must be permitted, 149 ; discommodities of, 149 ; 

commodities of, 150; in all countries, 151; reformation 

and regulation of, 151 ; two rates of, 151 

INDEX. 351 

Vespasian, prophecy of, 133 

Vespasian's saying of Nero, 66 

Vices of authority, four, 37 

Vicissitudes in war, 207 ; chiefly in three things, 207 ; of sects 

and religions, 206 ; of things, 203 
Virgil's character of Italy, 109 
Virgil, Battle of Actium, 298 

Virtue, best plain set, 156 ; walks not in the highway, 218 
Vulcan, 294 

War, its sinews not money, 106 ; war, or Perseus, 259 ; 
war, true exercise to bodies politic, 113 ; foreign, healthy 
for a people, 114 ; battles by sea, 114 
Wars, of modern times, 115; usual on the decay of an em- 
pire, 208 
Wealth of nations, 52 ; pillar of government, 49 
Wife and children, discipline of humanity, 24 
Wisdom of the Ancients, 226 ; for a man's self, 84 
Wives, good, with bad husbands, from pride of patience, 25 

Young men, their faults, 154 

Youth, 153 ; fitter for education than counsel, 154 ; pre- 
served from decay, 315 


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